Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 16, 2008

No Jihadist Left Behind

One shouldn’t make too much of politicians’ spouses (unless said spouses are also politicians), but if Barack Obama can find any points of agreement with his wife Michelle on the issue of terrorism, then there’s cause for alarm. Here’s Michelle Obama speaking with Katie Couric about the nature of an Obama foreign policy:

…instead of protecting ourselves against terrorists, that we’re building diplomatic relationships and we’re investing in education abroad so that we’re making sure that kids are learning how to read as opposed to …fight us.

Your average Islamist has memorized all 77,701 words of the Koran. If there’s one thing worth admiring in the madrassa curriculum it’s the emphasis on literacy.

And if there’s one thing that should never be uttered by anyone involved with a presidential candidate it’s describing what will be done “instead of protecting ourselves from terrorists.”

One shouldn’t make too much of politicians’ spouses (unless said spouses are also politicians), but if Barack Obama can find any points of agreement with his wife Michelle on the issue of terrorism, then there’s cause for alarm. Here’s Michelle Obama speaking with Katie Couric about the nature of an Obama foreign policy:

…instead of protecting ourselves against terrorists, that we’re building diplomatic relationships and we’re investing in education abroad so that we’re making sure that kids are learning how to read as opposed to …fight us.

Your average Islamist has memorized all 77,701 words of the Koran. If there’s one thing worth admiring in the madrassa curriculum it’s the emphasis on literacy.

And if there’s one thing that should never be uttered by anyone involved with a presidential candidate it’s describing what will be done “instead of protecting ourselves from terrorists.”

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Disarming Space

This morning the New York Times came out in favor of a treaty banning all weapons in space. “The United States, as the nation most dependent on satellites, should be working to ban all anti-satellite weapons,” the paper said. “That is the best way to protect America’s security and its credibility.”

The Russians and Chinese introduced a draft space treaty this Tuesday at a disarmament conference in Geneva, and the Times thought they did not go far enough toward the cause of bringing peace to the heavens. I generally am in favor of multilateral treaties to get rid of weapons, but I want to tell you that Moscow, Beijing, and New York’s paper of record are all wrong on this one.

Prohibiting space weapons sounds like a good idea, but promises to do so are utterly meaningless because they are virtually impossible to verify. There is one overriding reality: any object in space can be used as a space weapon if you can maneuver it to arrange a collision. The Russians and Chinese know this and are only trying to make us look bad because they know we will never accept their proposed deal. Moreover, they have no intention of implementing their idea either because they will never allow international inspectors to examine every satellite they launch and sit at every control panel they have. Unfortunately, it’s easier to conceal a space weapon than a nuclear warhead.

So this is all you have to know about a space treaty: If you want to ban all weapons in space, you will have to do away with every maneuverable object in space. And if you like the Times’s idea that a treaty should cover ground- and sea-based weapons too, then you will have to do away with every rocket, missile, and powerful laser. Unless you are willing to do all this, you are not serious about completely disarming the high ground of space.

The Chinese and Russians, of course, are not. The Times, unfortunately, is.

This morning the New York Times came out in favor of a treaty banning all weapons in space. “The United States, as the nation most dependent on satellites, should be working to ban all anti-satellite weapons,” the paper said. “That is the best way to protect America’s security and its credibility.”

The Russians and Chinese introduced a draft space treaty this Tuesday at a disarmament conference in Geneva, and the Times thought they did not go far enough toward the cause of bringing peace to the heavens. I generally am in favor of multilateral treaties to get rid of weapons, but I want to tell you that Moscow, Beijing, and New York’s paper of record are all wrong on this one.

Prohibiting space weapons sounds like a good idea, but promises to do so are utterly meaningless because they are virtually impossible to verify. There is one overriding reality: any object in space can be used as a space weapon if you can maneuver it to arrange a collision. The Russians and Chinese know this and are only trying to make us look bad because they know we will never accept their proposed deal. Moreover, they have no intention of implementing their idea either because they will never allow international inspectors to examine every satellite they launch and sit at every control panel they have. Unfortunately, it’s easier to conceal a space weapon than a nuclear warhead.

So this is all you have to know about a space treaty: If you want to ban all weapons in space, you will have to do away with every maneuverable object in space. And if you like the Times’s idea that a treaty should cover ground- and sea-based weapons too, then you will have to do away with every rocket, missile, and powerful laser. Unless you are willing to do all this, you are not serious about completely disarming the high ground of space.

The Chinese and Russians, of course, are not. The Times, unfortunately, is.

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No One Is Going To Win This By June

The networks don’t agree on the delegate totals for the Democrats. However, one thing is clear: without superdelegates and Michigan and Florida delegates, neither will reach the 2025 threshold to secure the presidential nomination by June. By my rough count, there are only 1078 delegates left. Given the proportional voting system, neither will be able to gain roughly 70% of that number, which is what it would take to get to 2025. So, the media can obsess over Obama’s momentum and Nancy Pelosi can tell superdelegates that they should not decide the race, but they very likely will. More important, since superdelegates are never really legally bound to one of the candidates, it’s possible this fight will not be decided for good until the Democratic Convention at the end of August. Or Hillary Clinton could gracefully step aside for the good of the party and settle this in June. Yeah, right.

The networks don’t agree on the delegate totals for the Democrats. However, one thing is clear: without superdelegates and Michigan and Florida delegates, neither will reach the 2025 threshold to secure the presidential nomination by June. By my rough count, there are only 1078 delegates left. Given the proportional voting system, neither will be able to gain roughly 70% of that number, which is what it would take to get to 2025. So, the media can obsess over Obama’s momentum and Nancy Pelosi can tell superdelegates that they should not decide the race, but they very likely will. More important, since superdelegates are never really legally bound to one of the candidates, it’s possible this fight will not be decided for good until the Democratic Convention at the end of August. Or Hillary Clinton could gracefully step aside for the good of the party and settle this in June. Yeah, right.

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The “Hands off Syria” Crowd

Steve Clemons, stalwart of the liberal foreign-policy establishment, picked the wrong day to defend the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad — as it was the same day that Hezbollah fighters buried Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in Damascus. Clemons applauded Syria for cracking down on terrorism and attacked the Bush administration for introducing a new round of financial sanctions against Syrian government figures. Syria, he says, should instead be thanked for its sheltering 1.2 million Iraqi refugees (many of whom are returning to Iraq, by the way), and rewarded for being such a good international citizen.

Let’s parse this short excerpt:

Syria must be a party to any arrangement with the broader Arab world — and thus far, Syria has been on the whole reasonably behaved with regard to Israel. When Israel attacked some warehouses that Seymour Hersh argues were not nuclear weapons related, Syria restrained itself from attacking back and did not unleash agents into Israel to create domestic strife.

“Reasonably behaved with regard to Israel?” You’ve got to love how Clemons uses the construction “Seymour Hersh argues” as if it were de facto proof of the charge’s veracity. He then goes onto applaud Syria for its “restrained” response to Israel’s attack last year on suspected nuclear facilities, as the Baathists in Damascus held back from causing “domestic strife” in Israel, a terrific euphemism for terrorism  I’ll remember the next time my younger brother and I get into a fight about playing X-Box or something. When Hezbollah inevitably retaliates for the murder of Mughniyeh at an El-Al airport counter or Jewish Community Center, perhaps Clemons will wag his finger at Syria for its “bad behavior.”

In the comments to Clemons’s piece, Eli Lake of the New York Sun takes issue with Clemons’s use of the word “strangle” to describe U.S. sanctions, since, as he says,  Syrian “top regime apparats…themselves ‘strangle,’ I don’t know, Kurdish opposition figures, liberal newspaper editors, and anyone suspected of disloyalty in their police state.”

Steve Clemons, stalwart of the liberal foreign-policy establishment, picked the wrong day to defend the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad — as it was the same day that Hezbollah fighters buried Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in Damascus. Clemons applauded Syria for cracking down on terrorism and attacked the Bush administration for introducing a new round of financial sanctions against Syrian government figures. Syria, he says, should instead be thanked for its sheltering 1.2 million Iraqi refugees (many of whom are returning to Iraq, by the way), and rewarded for being such a good international citizen.

Let’s parse this short excerpt:

Syria must be a party to any arrangement with the broader Arab world — and thus far, Syria has been on the whole reasonably behaved with regard to Israel. When Israel attacked some warehouses that Seymour Hersh argues were not nuclear weapons related, Syria restrained itself from attacking back and did not unleash agents into Israel to create domestic strife.

“Reasonably behaved with regard to Israel?” You’ve got to love how Clemons uses the construction “Seymour Hersh argues” as if it were de facto proof of the charge’s veracity. He then goes onto applaud Syria for its “restrained” response to Israel’s attack last year on suspected nuclear facilities, as the Baathists in Damascus held back from causing “domestic strife” in Israel, a terrific euphemism for terrorism  I’ll remember the next time my younger brother and I get into a fight about playing X-Box or something. When Hezbollah inevitably retaliates for the murder of Mughniyeh at an El-Al airport counter or Jewish Community Center, perhaps Clemons will wag his finger at Syria for its “bad behavior.”

In the comments to Clemons’s piece, Eli Lake of the New York Sun takes issue with Clemons’s use of the word “strangle” to describe U.S. sanctions, since, as he says,  Syrian “top regime apparats…themselves ‘strangle,’ I don’t know, Kurdish opposition figures, liberal newspaper editors, and anyone suspected of disloyalty in their police state.”

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