I have to give credit where credit is due. Last night, Sarah Palin managed to say Ahmadinejad three times without stumbling or stuttering like her partner John McCain did when he debated Barack Obama. And yes, I know she confused McClellan for David McKiernan when referring to the commanding general in Afghanistan.
But when it came to the Middle East, both candidates forgot to bring their "Middle East 101" manuals to the podium with them.
Now here is a "gotcha" opportunity that Palin missed out on had she had the manual on hand.
This is what foreign-policy expert, Senator Biden had to say when talking about Lebanon, "When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it. Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel."
What Palin could have said was," Excuse my naiveté Senator...but Hezbollah has always been a legitimate part of the Lebanese government, they have several representatives in it. Also, it was the Syrians who were kicked out of Lebanon not Hezbollah!" But she didn't. She had forgotten to bring her "Middle East 101" manual.
This is the message Biden sent last night to the entire Arab world: democratically held elections are a bad thing, especially if the party the United States does not approve of wins. Biden said, "He (Bush) insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack Obama said, "Big mistake. Hamas will win. You'll legitimize them." What happened? Hamas won."
There was a confusing moment when Biden twice repeated that "we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country." The fact of the matter is, nearly $88 billion were spent on Afghanistan since 9/11 according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. He also neglected to mention that unlike in Iraq, the EU and NATO countries have pitched in both militarily and in reconstruction efforts.
And yes, the surge, the surge, the surge...do you remember four years ago...it was the Iraqi elections and how wonderful things are going to be for everyone in Iraq. No one mentions this anymore!
Both candidates raised concerns over Iran and Pakistan's nuclear programs. However, neither mentioned Israel's or India's nuclear weapons, as if this had no impact on neighboring countries in the region.
There was one thing both candidates did not require a "Middle East 101" manual for. They both delivered the perfect Israel love fest moment when Sarah Palin told Joe Biden,"I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on." She also repeated a line that we often hear from candidates, something that has never happened -- the idea of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV