General Question

Mamradpivo's avatar

Is it uncommon for a foreign head of state to address the US Congress while the President is out of the country?

Asked by Mamradpivo (9625 points ) May 24th, 2011

Without getting into the details of what PM Netanyahu is surely going to be discussing, it feels strange to me that he’s addressing Congress about US policy while the President, who formally sets and executes that policy, is representing the nation in another country.

Is there precedent for this (Googleable, I’m sure), and how common? How was it received in the past?

admission: I’m an American living abroad, blissfully ignorant of US cable news

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8 Answers

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Not sure if there was precedence or not, but given the rather chilly interactions between Obama and Netanyahu of late, I am not surprised that the President was not around.

I am also an American living abroad and it will be interesting to see how all of this shift toward Israel by the US and its President will play out on the world stage.

marinelife's avatar

It may be a bit unusual.

tedd's avatar

It may not be incredibly common, but I doubt it is unprecedented.

tedd's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus The funny thing is this isn’t really a shift in US policy. It has been widely accepted by US administrations since Reagans time as president, its just never been explicitly spelled out as the US policy.

But man the uproar in this country because Obama spelled out an actual “goal” or starting point in a 50 year old negotiation that hasn’t gone anywhere.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@tedd…I am not clear as to what you are saying. Previous administrations did not advocate going back to the 1967 borders.

The uproar is not that he set a “goal” the uproar with the Israelis is that he set a “goal” that they fear will end up in the genocide of their nation. I don’t want to get into Palestinian/Israeli who’s right/wrong here. I am not surprised that this is happening because the rise of anti-Israel sentiment is rife at the moment.

I don’t think the US has any business telling Israel or Palestine what they need to do to settle their business….neither do they have any business interfering in the politics of any nation unless gross human rights abuses are being committed. (And yes, of course, this is an arguable point, I am aware of that.)

When people are at war (as these two nations have been) people on both sides will lose their lives. Granted, it is not a “declared ” war, but it is a conflict, nevertheless. I have been to Israel, I have seen Palestinian children and Jewish children together living peacefully and going to school together and playing together. I know that Israel, the true Israelis want peace and a homeland that is safe. That’s also what the true Palestinians want. How that will take place is still to unfold.

It is the governments who continue to inflame the situation and fan the flames of fanaticism…not the “regular guy” who wants to simply feed his family, make a living and worship his G-d in peace.

I don’t have an answer…but I am also not going to blame Israel. Palestine has also been accused of using strong-armed tactics. At some point, there has to be a meeting point…but I am not sure that America (or Tony Blair for that matter!) have any business dictating their policy.

The only finger pointing in this area should be a finger pointing upward, because only Source/Spirit can illuminate the minds and hearts of all the peoples involved.

We who do not live there, can spin it and spin it…but we do not live (yet anyway) wondering if we will be alive tomorrow because someone is lobbying bombs over our borders.

No one should have to live like this anywhere.

tedd's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus The stance of going back to the 1967 borders has been widely circulated for years, going back to Reagan… (link below contains this excerpt)

I’m amazed at the amount of insta-commentary out there suggesting that the President has proposed something radical and new by declaring that Israel’s 1967 borders should define — with land-swaps — the borders of a Palestinian state. I’m feeling a certain Groundhog Day effect here. This has been the basic idea for at least 12 years. This is what Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were talking about at Camp David, and later, at Taba. This is what George W. Bush was talking about with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. So what’s the huge deal here? Is there any non-delusional Israeli who doesn’t think that the 1967 border won’t serve as the rough outline of the new Palestinian state?

In fact the last Israeli Prime Minister (Ehud Olmert) advocated a similar plan.

Here’s the gist of it. Israel can’t deport the Palestinians living in the areas we’re talking about here, it would be a massive undertaking (not to mention a pretty big human rights violation, mildly akin to the holocaust itself). At the same time if they gave all those Palestinians voting rights, then their country would cease to be Israeli, because the Palestinians on those 3 areas outnumber all of the Israeli’s in the country (let alone the areas themselves).

We’ve been trying for over 50 years to get the Palestinians and the Israeli’s to agree to a peace treaty that makes everyone at least satisfied. Nothing new has been added to the table in decades, and quite frankly I think we’re all starting to get a little bit sick of sending Israel billions of dollars a year in aid they don’t need so they can continue to delay the issue. If Israel is serious about getting a peace treaty, then giving up at least some of those territories has to be on the table.

This has been known for decades, all Obama did was put it in print. Netenyahu wants to get his crap in a bunch then go for it, we’ll just leave them alone and they can enjoy another 50 years of quasi-war/war.

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/obamas-reference-to-israels-1967-borders-creates-faux-controversy/

WestRiverrat's avatar

It is unusual for the head of state of any country to leave while a head of state from another country is making a State visit to that head of state’s country.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@tedd…..I won’t argue for the sake of arguing…or “being right”.

I uphold your right to your view. Let me have mine.

I won’t play the “blame game”. That’s what leads to all these massive problems in the first place.

At some point, there will be peace. And when there is, there will be another conflict somewhere to keep people separate and fighting. Why? Because war is good business for everyone.

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