Commentary Magazine


Posts For: December 2008

Re: No Truce

J.G., what Ehud Barak really wanted to achieve–not only by supporting the French-proposed cease fire but also by letting the public know about his recommendation–is not clear.

The story is simple:

The idea for a 48-hour suspension was first raised by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in a phone call with Barak on Monday. Barak initially rejected the offer, but in a second conversation on Tuesday told Kouchner that he would reconsider and raise it in talks with Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

News of Barak’s decision took the IDF – which continued to mass forces outside Gaza on Tuesday ahead of a planned ground operation – completely by surprise, and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi released a statement saying the IDF was not behind the move.

The complicating factor is Barak:

Barak, at a meeting with his aides and half a dozen guests, said things that were meant for publication, but not for attribution. The result was miserable, in terms of both content and form. He confused the public just when the aims of the operation seemed crystal clear and enjoyed broad support.

He did not explain the connection between the stable, long-term cease-fire whose achievement – and nothing else – would justify ending the operation, and a limited cease-fire called solely to enable negotiations on the larger cease-fire. The opposition he aroused from his colleagues in the government and senior defense officials managed to put the weaknesses of the group that will decide the operation’s future at the top of the agenda.

Eventually, Israel has rejected the proposed cease fire (giving the Washington Post an opportunity to get it right). The credit Barak might get for success in the Gaza operation is already in some danger. But this should worry him and his party, not Israel’s citizens. Thus, the real problem arising from this miserable incident is that it served to pick holes in the relative unity behind the operation and its goals. As usual, the leftist Meretz party and its satellites were ready and willing to put an end to operation they endorsed just a couple of days ago.

Here’s Meretz last Thursday:

“The time has to act without compromise and without narrow political considerations, to protect the citizens of the Gaza periphery and Sderot,” the statement said. “There is no choice but to hit Hamas in a precise way and to act for a renewed ceasefire,” the party said.

Here’s Meretz four days later:

In a speech to the Knesset on Monday, Oron warned against the IDF “getting stuck in the Gaza Strip” and said he still did not understand what the goals of the war were. Meretz MKs later voted against a motion endorsing the war.

You can’t blame Barak for this (expected) shift in Meretz’s position. But sowing confusion in time of war–something Barak knows as well as anyone is not a good idea–gives the Meretz/Peace Now camp a tool with which they can work to change public opinion. Strengthening Meretz is not what Barak needs to do right now.

 

J.G., what Ehud Barak really wanted to achieve–not only by supporting the French-proposed cease fire but also by letting the public know about his recommendation–is not clear.

The story is simple:

The idea for a 48-hour suspension was first raised by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in a phone call with Barak on Monday. Barak initially rejected the offer, but in a second conversation on Tuesday told Kouchner that he would reconsider and raise it in talks with Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

News of Barak’s decision took the IDF – which continued to mass forces outside Gaza on Tuesday ahead of a planned ground operation – completely by surprise, and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi released a statement saying the IDF was not behind the move.

The complicating factor is Barak:

Barak, at a meeting with his aides and half a dozen guests, said things that were meant for publication, but not for attribution. The result was miserable, in terms of both content and form. He confused the public just when the aims of the operation seemed crystal clear and enjoyed broad support.

He did not explain the connection between the stable, long-term cease-fire whose achievement – and nothing else – would justify ending the operation, and a limited cease-fire called solely to enable negotiations on the larger cease-fire. The opposition he aroused from his colleagues in the government and senior defense officials managed to put the weaknesses of the group that will decide the operation’s future at the top of the agenda.

Eventually, Israel has rejected the proposed cease fire (giving the Washington Post an opportunity to get it right). The credit Barak might get for success in the Gaza operation is already in some danger. But this should worry him and his party, not Israel’s citizens. Thus, the real problem arising from this miserable incident is that it served to pick holes in the relative unity behind the operation and its goals. As usual, the leftist Meretz party and its satellites were ready and willing to put an end to operation they endorsed just a couple of days ago.

Here’s Meretz last Thursday:

“The time has to act without compromise and without narrow political considerations, to protect the citizens of the Gaza periphery and Sderot,” the statement said. “There is no choice but to hit Hamas in a precise way and to act for a renewed ceasefire,” the party said.

Here’s Meretz four days later:

In a speech to the Knesset on Monday, Oron warned against the IDF “getting stuck in the Gaza Strip” and said he still did not understand what the goals of the war were. Meretz MKs later voted against a motion endorsing the war.

You can’t blame Barak for this (expected) shift in Meretz’s position. But sowing confusion in time of war–something Barak knows as well as anyone is not a good idea–gives the Meretz/Peace Now camp a tool with which they can work to change public opinion. Strengthening Meretz is not what Barak needs to do right now.

 

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No Truce

Well, Israel has weighed on whether or not to accept a truce with Hamas . . . and declined the offer. The proposal, put forth by France, would have had both sides stop the attacks while humanitarian relief flowed into the Gaza Strip.

Missing from most accounts is Hamas’s response to the proposal. One would think more attention would be paid to it; after all, it takes two to tango, and a cease-fire normally involves two sides both ceasing their fire.

Fox News had  the response:

A Hamas spokesman said any halt to militant rocket and mortar fire would require an end to Israel’s crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip. “If they halt the aggression and the blockade, then Hamas will study these suggestions,” said Mushir Masri.

In other words: if Israel stops the bombing and ends the blockade, Hamas will think about stopping the rockets.

Gee, ain’t that generous of them? For years,  Hamas (and other terrorist groups) have been allowed to use their own definitions and terminology for their own perverse intents, with no one willing to challenge them. All Palestinians are “civilians,” all Israelis are “legitimate targets.” A “truce” or a “cease-fire” means that the Israelis stop shooting, while the Palestinians just throttle back their attacks a little. Kidnapping for ransom is a valid tactic. And so on. And so on.

The proposal put forth by France was a fairly reasonable one, as far as such things go. Hamas, in its rejection, has shown that it is not quite ready to face the reality that they do not hold a winning hand. Israel, in its rejection, has shown that it will not be pressured into making yet another disastrous concession. At least, not yet.

Well, Israel has weighed on whether or not to accept a truce with Hamas . . . and declined the offer. The proposal, put forth by France, would have had both sides stop the attacks while humanitarian relief flowed into the Gaza Strip.

Missing from most accounts is Hamas’s response to the proposal. One would think more attention would be paid to it; after all, it takes two to tango, and a cease-fire normally involves two sides both ceasing their fire.

Fox News had  the response:

A Hamas spokesman said any halt to militant rocket and mortar fire would require an end to Israel’s crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip. “If they halt the aggression and the blockade, then Hamas will study these suggestions,” said Mushir Masri.

In other words: if Israel stops the bombing and ends the blockade, Hamas will think about stopping the rockets.

Gee, ain’t that generous of them? For years,  Hamas (and other terrorist groups) have been allowed to use their own definitions and terminology for their own perverse intents, with no one willing to challenge them. All Palestinians are “civilians,” all Israelis are “legitimate targets.” A “truce” or a “cease-fire” means that the Israelis stop shooting, while the Palestinians just throttle back their attacks a little. Kidnapping for ransom is a valid tactic. And so on. And so on.

The proposal put forth by France was a fairly reasonable one, as far as such things go. Hamas, in its rejection, has shown that it is not quite ready to face the reality that they do not hold a winning hand. Israel, in its rejection, has shown that it will not be pressured into making yet another disastrous concession. At least, not yet.

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The GOP Minority

Larry Kudlow praises Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for attempting to hold the line on stimulus spending. Kudlow explains:

We don’t need bailout nation. Nor do we need the government picking winners and losers in a massive, Keynesian, new-New Deal spending extravaganza. And it’s not Obama’s middle-class tax cut that’s going to get us out of this economic jam. At best his vision is incomplete. But at worst his aversion to successful earners and investors is a real obstacle to full economic recovery.

So what can Repbulicans do, and what ideas can they offer? Kudlow has a few suggestions:

In fact, the GOP has a great opportunity to challenge Obama’s Keynesian pump-priming by insisting there be a major tax-cut component in any new fiscal package. Republicans shouldn’t merely push for somewhat less government spending. They have to make a bold case that tax rates matter for economic growth and job creation. They must insist that any recovery package includes this key element. Shift the debate. Say clearly that a reenergized economy cannot occur without lower marginal tax rates.

In particular, the GOP position should include lower tax rates on large and small businesses. Right now the top federal tax rate for C-corps is 35 percent. Small businesses, which pay the individual rate, also are taxed at 35 percent. These rates should be 20 percent for both C-corps and S-corps (including LLCs). This would make a huge difference. It would be a boon for our global competitiveness, since companies in the U.S. (as well as Japan) are taxed way above the rates of other advanced countries. It also would attract job-creating investment flows to the U.S. at a time when capital is on strike in our financial markets and economy. And while businesses collect corporate taxes, it’s really consumers who pay the final cost.

Republicans also could promote a middle-class tax cut that would reduce the 28 percent and 25 percent brackets down to 15 percent. And of course, the GOP should work hard to maintain the Bush tax cuts on capital gains, dividends, inheritance, and top individual rates.
.    .     .

The whole debate in Washington is heavily skewed toward government spending on infrastructure. It’s all spending and virtually no tax cuts. For a more balanced and effective recovery policy, the GOP has to bolster its argument for spending discipline with a loud case for tax cuts.

It is not likely that the Obama administration will look kindly upon these ideas, nor be inclined to trim its mammoth spending plans. But that shouldn’t concern Republicans. Their task is three-fold. First, they should object strenuously and loudly to the worst ideas pursued by the Democrats (e.g. card check, protectionism, nationalized health care, tax increases). Second, they need to explain the dangers of spending hundreds of billions of dollars we don’t have. (“Think of the children!” Better yet, think of the New Deal and Japan circa 1990.) And third, they’d be wise to offer viable alternatives (e.g. domestic energy development, business tax cuts, free trade,  market-based health care).

The most Republicans can hope for is to trim and guide the Obama plan around the margins, and to explain to the voters the fundamental difference between the parties. That’s what life in the minority is: losing most of the time, extracting a few wins and developing an alternative vision that, when the time is right, can provide the basis for a change of course–if the majority party doesn’t deliver.

Larry Kudlow praises Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for attempting to hold the line on stimulus spending. Kudlow explains:

We don’t need bailout nation. Nor do we need the government picking winners and losers in a massive, Keynesian, new-New Deal spending extravaganza. And it’s not Obama’s middle-class tax cut that’s going to get us out of this economic jam. At best his vision is incomplete. But at worst his aversion to successful earners and investors is a real obstacle to full economic recovery.

So what can Repbulicans do, and what ideas can they offer? Kudlow has a few suggestions:

In fact, the GOP has a great opportunity to challenge Obama’s Keynesian pump-priming by insisting there be a major tax-cut component in any new fiscal package. Republicans shouldn’t merely push for somewhat less government spending. They have to make a bold case that tax rates matter for economic growth and job creation. They must insist that any recovery package includes this key element. Shift the debate. Say clearly that a reenergized economy cannot occur without lower marginal tax rates.

In particular, the GOP position should include lower tax rates on large and small businesses. Right now the top federal tax rate for C-corps is 35 percent. Small businesses, which pay the individual rate, also are taxed at 35 percent. These rates should be 20 percent for both C-corps and S-corps (including LLCs). This would make a huge difference. It would be a boon for our global competitiveness, since companies in the U.S. (as well as Japan) are taxed way above the rates of other advanced countries. It also would attract job-creating investment flows to the U.S. at a time when capital is on strike in our financial markets and economy. And while businesses collect corporate taxes, it’s really consumers who pay the final cost.

Republicans also could promote a middle-class tax cut that would reduce the 28 percent and 25 percent brackets down to 15 percent. And of course, the GOP should work hard to maintain the Bush tax cuts on capital gains, dividends, inheritance, and top individual rates.
.    .     .

The whole debate in Washington is heavily skewed toward government spending on infrastructure. It’s all spending and virtually no tax cuts. For a more balanced and effective recovery policy, the GOP has to bolster its argument for spending discipline with a loud case for tax cuts.

It is not likely that the Obama administration will look kindly upon these ideas, nor be inclined to trim its mammoth spending plans. But that shouldn’t concern Republicans. Their task is three-fold. First, they should object strenuously and loudly to the worst ideas pursued by the Democrats (e.g. card check, protectionism, nationalized health care, tax increases). Second, they need to explain the dangers of spending hundreds of billions of dollars we don’t have. (“Think of the children!” Better yet, think of the New Deal and Japan circa 1990.) And third, they’d be wise to offer viable alternatives (e.g. domestic energy development, business tax cuts, free trade,  market-based health care).

The most Republicans can hope for is to trim and guide the Obama plan around the margins, and to explain to the voters the fundamental difference between the parties. That’s what life in the minority is: losing most of the time, extracting a few wins and developing an alternative vision that, when the time is right, can provide the basis for a change of course–if the majority party doesn’t deliver.

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Gaza and K’ang-hsi

As I watch the war in Gaza from afar, I have been reading, for completely unrelated purposes, Jonathan Spence’s “memoir” of Chinese Emperor K’ang-hsi (r. 1661-1722). K’ang-hsi was not much impressed by the Seven Military Classics of ancient China, the most famous of which is Sun-tzu’s The Art of War. Those books lay out elaborate stratagems designed to defeat the enemy, sometimes without firing a shot. “I told my officials once that if you followed these books, you’d never win a battle . . . ” the emperor wrote. “All one needs is an inflexible will and careful planning.”

That struck me as spot on. Inflexible will and careful planning are indeed the sine qua non for military success. Does Israel have what it takes? I hope so, but I have my doubts. Certainly Ehud Olmert did not display either of those qualities the last time he launched a war-against Hezbollah in 2006. This time around there seems to have been better planning, catching Hamas off-guard initially. But it’s much easier to start a war than to end one. Has Israel thought through how this war will end? Does it have the will to see the war through to a successful conclusion?

At this point it seems that Olmert and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, plan to keep launching air strikes for an undetermined period and then announce a cease fire, hoping to avoid sending Israeli troops into tough fighting in Gaza City. If so that will cause some degradation to Hamas’s capabilities but only on a very limited scale. Hamas will be able to bounce back easily enough as Hezbollah bounced back after the 2006 war.

As Israeli historian Benny Morris noted in the New York Times yesterday: “According to Israeli intelligence estimates, Hezbollah now has an arsenal of 30,000 to 40,000 Russian-made rockets, supplied by Syria and Iran – twice the number it possessed in 2006. Some of the rockets can reach Tel Aviv and Dimona, where Israel’s nuclear production facility is located.”

True, Hezbollah has not launched any attacks since 2006, so there is some deterrence effect from Israel’s military operations. But Hezbollah was widely seen as the victor in its confrontation with Israel because the Israeli attacks did not do it fatal damage. The same is likely to happen with Hamas because-and here is the fundamental problem-the Israeli public lacks the will to launch a protracted ground war to eliminate Hamas. That would likely require “re-occupying” Gaza, something that is anathema to most Israeli voters, and understandably so.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not at all opposed to the current Israeli action. In fact Israel had no choice but to strike back when it was on the receiving end of Hamas rockets. And the losses it is now inflicting on Hamas are a good thing. All I am saying is that I doubt the Olmert government has the “inflexible will and careful planning” needed to win a lasting victory against the terrorists.

As I watch the war in Gaza from afar, I have been reading, for completely unrelated purposes, Jonathan Spence’s “memoir” of Chinese Emperor K’ang-hsi (r. 1661-1722). K’ang-hsi was not much impressed by the Seven Military Classics of ancient China, the most famous of which is Sun-tzu’s The Art of War. Those books lay out elaborate stratagems designed to defeat the enemy, sometimes without firing a shot. “I told my officials once that if you followed these books, you’d never win a battle . . . ” the emperor wrote. “All one needs is an inflexible will and careful planning.”

That struck me as spot on. Inflexible will and careful planning are indeed the sine qua non for military success. Does Israel have what it takes? I hope so, but I have my doubts. Certainly Ehud Olmert did not display either of those qualities the last time he launched a war-against Hezbollah in 2006. This time around there seems to have been better planning, catching Hamas off-guard initially. But it’s much easier to start a war than to end one. Has Israel thought through how this war will end? Does it have the will to see the war through to a successful conclusion?

At this point it seems that Olmert and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, plan to keep launching air strikes for an undetermined period and then announce a cease fire, hoping to avoid sending Israeli troops into tough fighting in Gaza City. If so that will cause some degradation to Hamas’s capabilities but only on a very limited scale. Hamas will be able to bounce back easily enough as Hezbollah bounced back after the 2006 war.

As Israeli historian Benny Morris noted in the New York Times yesterday: “According to Israeli intelligence estimates, Hezbollah now has an arsenal of 30,000 to 40,000 Russian-made rockets, supplied by Syria and Iran – twice the number it possessed in 2006. Some of the rockets can reach Tel Aviv and Dimona, where Israel’s nuclear production facility is located.”

True, Hezbollah has not launched any attacks since 2006, so there is some deterrence effect from Israel’s military operations. But Hezbollah was widely seen as the victor in its confrontation with Israel because the Israeli attacks did not do it fatal damage. The same is likely to happen with Hamas because-and here is the fundamental problem-the Israeli public lacks the will to launch a protracted ground war to eliminate Hamas. That would likely require “re-occupying” Gaza, something that is anathema to most Israeli voters, and understandably so.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not at all opposed to the current Israeli action. In fact Israel had no choice but to strike back when it was on the receiving end of Hamas rockets. And the losses it is now inflicting on Hamas are a good thing. All I am saying is that I doubt the Olmert government has the “inflexible will and careful planning” needed to win a lasting victory against the terrorists.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The HMS Caroline is sinking fast. This New York Post piece tells us that Mayor Bloomberg’s previously helpful aide is backing off, adding via an unnamed source (presumably about the interviews, but equally applicable to the entire undertaking): “She wasn’t prepped enough. . .She wasn’t ready to do this.” Well, you know, that seems umm . . .  about, you know, right.

And Caroline is sinking in In-Trade.

As lawsuits go, this one filed by a Washington lobbyist against the New York Times (which ran a front page story accusing her of having an affair with John McCain) is a pretty interesting one. If the Gray Lady sold tickets to the depositions of its reporters and editors, the Times might climb out of its financial ditch.

Harry Reid better have a more compelling argument than “fraud” to keep Roland Burris out of the senate. For starters, where’s the evidence of “fraud” and is Reid accusing Burris of some misdeed? By their brilliant strategy of opposing a special election, the Democrats have now ensured an unseemly and protracted legal and political free-for-all.

President-elect Obama is predictably “disappointed.” That, you may recall, is the officially-approved default reaction.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan whines that Blago’s pick of Burris leaves the state in a “terrible situation.” Hmmm. How could this have been prevented? Someone ask Sen. Dick Durbin.

agree that Reid’s got a tough case: it’s not enough to say Blago is a crook and was considering a list of other people for a price. Blago’s move, in a way, is a brilliant bit of misdirection, but it does undermine any insanity defense. This is one clever pol.

Ron Haskins of Brookings has the smartest (if not most accurate) 2009 prediction yet: “President Obama will quickly enact his $999.9 billion stimulus package. It’s main effect will be to pile still more debt on our children and grandchildren. At least the new president can argue that the indifference to future generations has been bipartisan.” Yeah, what happened to “doing it for the children”?

Some are bemused, if not horrified, by the Democratic senate follies: “So to recap all of this change you can believe in: A Kennedy and Cuomo are competing to succeed a Clinton in New York; the skids are greased for a Biden to replace a Biden in Delaware; one Salazar might replace another in Colorado; and a Governor charged with political corruption in Illinois wants one of his cronies to succeed the President-elect. Let’s just say we’re looking forward to 2009.”

The Clintons will help ring in 2009, a sign that they will be front and center in the new year. Both of them.

I’m not as optimistic about Norm Coleman’s chances as some. For starters, whoever has the lead after the official recount ends has a huge advantage. And second, the “double counted” ballots theory isn’t a slam dunk.

This reminds me how much I enjoy watching Candy Crowley. But still, the whining by reporters who were staying in decent hotels and covering the best story of their lives is a bit much to stomach. Did Murrow’s Boys complain like this?

Some scraps of good news for Republicans in polling about voters’ attitudes toward the two parties: “The good news is that voters are very fearful that Democrats will go too far with their liberal agenda. When voters are asked what they ‘like least about the Democrats,’ the most common answers volunteered were: ‘taxes going up,’ ‘big government,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘raise spending,’ and even ‘socialism.’ These broad economic and fiscal principles appear to present the GOP with its biggest opening. The poll also reveals that Republicans can win back voters by opposing Democrats on several specific policies coming down the pike in 2009: card-check labor union elections, bailouts for banks and auto makers, welfare expansions and affirmative action.”

The HMS Caroline is sinking fast. This New York Post piece tells us that Mayor Bloomberg’s previously helpful aide is backing off, adding via an unnamed source (presumably about the interviews, but equally applicable to the entire undertaking): “She wasn’t prepped enough. . .She wasn’t ready to do this.” Well, you know, that seems umm . . .  about, you know, right.

And Caroline is sinking in In-Trade.

As lawsuits go, this one filed by a Washington lobbyist against the New York Times (which ran a front page story accusing her of having an affair with John McCain) is a pretty interesting one. If the Gray Lady sold tickets to the depositions of its reporters and editors, the Times might climb out of its financial ditch.

Harry Reid better have a more compelling argument than “fraud” to keep Roland Burris out of the senate. For starters, where’s the evidence of “fraud” and is Reid accusing Burris of some misdeed? By their brilliant strategy of opposing a special election, the Democrats have now ensured an unseemly and protracted legal and political free-for-all.

President-elect Obama is predictably “disappointed.” That, you may recall, is the officially-approved default reaction.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan whines that Blago’s pick of Burris leaves the state in a “terrible situation.” Hmmm. How could this have been prevented? Someone ask Sen. Dick Durbin.

agree that Reid’s got a tough case: it’s not enough to say Blago is a crook and was considering a list of other people for a price. Blago’s move, in a way, is a brilliant bit of misdirection, but it does undermine any insanity defense. This is one clever pol.

Ron Haskins of Brookings has the smartest (if not most accurate) 2009 prediction yet: “President Obama will quickly enact his $999.9 billion stimulus package. It’s main effect will be to pile still more debt on our children and grandchildren. At least the new president can argue that the indifference to future generations has been bipartisan.” Yeah, what happened to “doing it for the children”?

Some are bemused, if not horrified, by the Democratic senate follies: “So to recap all of this change you can believe in: A Kennedy and Cuomo are competing to succeed a Clinton in New York; the skids are greased for a Biden to replace a Biden in Delaware; one Salazar might replace another in Colorado; and a Governor charged with political corruption in Illinois wants one of his cronies to succeed the President-elect. Let’s just say we’re looking forward to 2009.”

The Clintons will help ring in 2009, a sign that they will be front and center in the new year. Both of them.

I’m not as optimistic about Norm Coleman’s chances as some. For starters, whoever has the lead after the official recount ends has a huge advantage. And second, the “double counted” ballots theory isn’t a slam dunk.

This reminds me how much I enjoy watching Candy Crowley. But still, the whining by reporters who were staying in decent hotels and covering the best story of their lives is a bit much to stomach. Did Murrow’s Boys complain like this?

Some scraps of good news for Republicans in polling about voters’ attitudes toward the two parties: “The good news is that voters are very fearful that Democrats will go too far with their liberal agenda. When voters are asked what they ‘like least about the Democrats,’ the most common answers volunteered were: ‘taxes going up,’ ‘big government,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘raise spending,’ and even ‘socialism.’ These broad economic and fiscal principles appear to present the GOP with its biggest opening. The poll also reveals that Republicans can win back voters by opposing Democrats on several specific policies coming down the pike in 2009: card-check labor union elections, bailouts for banks and auto makers, welfare expansions and affirmative action.”

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Things Are Tough All Over

A few weeks ago, Illinois Governor Blagojevich was recorded as saying he thought he could get at least a million dollars for Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.

Yesterday, he gave it to a man who had contributed about $20,000 to the governor’s campaigns.

I guess this economic slump is hitting everyone…

A few weeks ago, Illinois Governor Blagojevich was recorded as saying he thought he could get at least a million dollars for Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.

Yesterday, he gave it to a man who had contributed about $20,000 to the governor’s campaigns.

I guess this economic slump is hitting everyone…

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The Cycle of Cease-Fires

The Israeli writer David Grossman has an op-ed that appears in both today’s New York Times and Guardian. Grossman says that “the most important lesson we must learn” from the Lebanon war in 2006 is that every military offensive should be halted after a few days to allow a cease-fire, so that the enemy can pause to take the measure of Israel’s destructive capabilities, and — for Grossman, this is really the more important point — Israel can restrain itself “[a]gainst the deadly logic of military power and the dynamic of escalation.”

It is interesting that cycle-of-violence fetishists, who are absolutely certain that military action is part of the problem, do not recognize the problem of the cycle of cease-fires. There is an opportunity right now to deal a crippling blow to Hamas, and it will require ground combat, more air strikes, and the maintenance of the IDF’s violence of action. There is indeed a cycle between Israel and its enemies, but the problem is not the cycle of violence. The problem is that every time the IDF is poised to strike a decisive blow against the enemy, the David Grossmans of the world emerge to plead for restraint exactly at the moment when restraint is the last thing that should be considered.

The Israeli writer David Grossman has an op-ed that appears in both today’s New York Times and Guardian. Grossman says that “the most important lesson we must learn” from the Lebanon war in 2006 is that every military offensive should be halted after a few days to allow a cease-fire, so that the enemy can pause to take the measure of Israel’s destructive capabilities, and — for Grossman, this is really the more important point — Israel can restrain itself “[a]gainst the deadly logic of military power and the dynamic of escalation.”

It is interesting that cycle-of-violence fetishists, who are absolutely certain that military action is part of the problem, do not recognize the problem of the cycle of cease-fires. There is an opportunity right now to deal a crippling blow to Hamas, and it will require ground combat, more air strikes, and the maintenance of the IDF’s violence of action. There is indeed a cycle between Israel and its enemies, but the problem is not the cycle of violence. The problem is that every time the IDF is poised to strike a decisive blow against the enemy, the David Grossmans of the world emerge to plead for restraint exactly at the moment when restraint is the last thing that should be considered.

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Priorities

The Nation is running an appeal for the “victims” in the Gaza Strip. Writing on the magazine’s “Act Now” blog, a “guide to expressing informed dissent to war, racism, sexism, environmental degradation and market-based solutions to social problems,” associate publisher Peter Rothberg directs readers to the website of CARE International and Doctors Without Borders. “The health system has been hard hit by increased demand and an inability to secure supplies or to repair or replace equipment,” he writes. “No matter your views on Israel and Palestine, it’s absolutely insane, in my view, for anyone to think that Israel can successfully bomb its way to peace and security.”

I may disagree with the last sentiment, but it’s nonetheless nice to see The Nation raising money for third-party sources attempting to alleviate the suffering that’s the inevitable result of any military operation in a densely populated area, even one carried out by the Israeli military, which is the most precise in the world when it comes to these sorts of things. I wondered, however, whether anyone at the magazine had ever bothered to launch a similar campaign for the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism, particularly the residents of Sderot, who have lived under siege as a result of the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, withstanding frequent rocket attacks ever since. A quick search of The Nation’s website, unsurprisingly, finds no such appeal.

Lest you doubt the spirit of generosity over at The Nation, note that it has encouraged its readers to support such worthy causes as a website that publishes the results of chemical tests on children’s toys and a letter writing campaign “to major toy marketers urging them to target parents, not children, with their millions of dollars in advertising lucre.” Apparently the sympathy of The Nation, which loves to wallow in the perceived victimhood of every imaginable “marginalized” group, doesn’t extend to Jews.

The Nation is running an appeal for the “victims” in the Gaza Strip. Writing on the magazine’s “Act Now” blog, a “guide to expressing informed dissent to war, racism, sexism, environmental degradation and market-based solutions to social problems,” associate publisher Peter Rothberg directs readers to the website of CARE International and Doctors Without Borders. “The health system has been hard hit by increased demand and an inability to secure supplies or to repair or replace equipment,” he writes. “No matter your views on Israel and Palestine, it’s absolutely insane, in my view, for anyone to think that Israel can successfully bomb its way to peace and security.”

I may disagree with the last sentiment, but it’s nonetheless nice to see The Nation raising money for third-party sources attempting to alleviate the suffering that’s the inevitable result of any military operation in a densely populated area, even one carried out by the Israeli military, which is the most precise in the world when it comes to these sorts of things. I wondered, however, whether anyone at the magazine had ever bothered to launch a similar campaign for the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism, particularly the residents of Sderot, who have lived under siege as a result of the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, withstanding frequent rocket attacks ever since. A quick search of The Nation’s website, unsurprisingly, finds no such appeal.

Lest you doubt the spirit of generosity over at The Nation, note that it has encouraged its readers to support such worthy causes as a website that publishes the results of chemical tests on children’s toys and a letter writing campaign “to major toy marketers urging them to target parents, not children, with their millions of dollars in advertising lucre.” Apparently the sympathy of The Nation, which loves to wallow in the perceived victimhood of every imaginable “marginalized” group, doesn’t extend to Jews.

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What Would a Proportionate Response Look Like?

“If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” – President-elect Barack Obama

Now that Hamas’s long war against Israel is matched with a short war in Gaza, protests are erupting everywhere from the blogosphere and Arab capitals to the United Nations, and they began on the very first day. Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald calls the Israeli retaliation to more than a year of rocket attacks a “massively disproportionate response.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay “strongly condemned Israel’s disproportionate use of force.” The Israeli counterattack is, indeed, disproportionate, but it could hardly be otherwise. “At last count,” J.G. Thayer wrote, “one Israeli and two Palestinians (sisters, ages 13 and 5) died from rocket attacks. So a proportionate response, one presumes, would have required Israel to kill a single Palestinian and two of its own citizens.”

There were, I suppose, other “proportionate” responses available aside from killing one Palestinian and two Israelis. The Israel Defense Forces might have launched thousands of air strikes against targets in Gaza to match the thousands of Qassam rockets fired at the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon. It’s unlikely, however, that this is what Israel’s critics have in mind.

So what do they have in mind? What would a legitimate and “proportionate” response actually look like? Surely they don’t believe Israel should scrap its sophisticated weapons systems, build Qassam rockets, and launch those at Gaza instead.

The “disproportionate response” crowd doesn’t seem to mind that Israel struck back at Hamas per se. They aren’t saying Israel should only be allowed to negotiate with its enemies or that any use of force whatsoever is wrong. They’re clearly saying Israel should use less force, inflict less damage, or both.

One problem here is that it’s not at all clear how they think Israelis should go about doing it. The weapons used by each side can’t be the same. No one has ever said Israel ought to put its superior weapons systems in cold storage until Hamas can develop or purchase something similar. Presumably Israel is allowed to use its superior technology as long as the casualty count on each side is proportionate.

But how would that work in practice? A single Israeli air strike is going to kill at least as many people as Hamas can kill in twelve months. Does that mean Israel should be given a “license” of one air strike per year to use in the war? If IDF commanders want to take out a target where they expect five Hamas leaders or fighters to be killed, do they have to wait until five Israelis are killed first? If the Israelis endure rocket fire until one civilian is killed, do they get a “kill one Palestinian terrorist” coupon?

If strict proportionality isn’t necessary, what are the limits? If the Israelis kill two Palestinians for every Israeli that’s killed, is that okay? Or is doubling the number of casualties on each side too unfair to the Palestinians?

No army in the history of human civilization has ever hamstrung itself with these kind of restrictions in wartime, but let’s leave that aside for the moment and assume the IDF should be the first. Maybe Israeli commanders will be swayed by the legion of bloggers, Arab street radicals, and United Nations apparatchiks. What, precisely, should be the limits and rules of proportionate war? If critics expect to be taken seriously, they will need to advise.

“If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” – President-elect Barack Obama

Now that Hamas’s long war against Israel is matched with a short war in Gaza, protests are erupting everywhere from the blogosphere and Arab capitals to the United Nations, and they began on the very first day. Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald calls the Israeli retaliation to more than a year of rocket attacks a “massively disproportionate response.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay “strongly condemned Israel’s disproportionate use of force.” The Israeli counterattack is, indeed, disproportionate, but it could hardly be otherwise. “At last count,” J.G. Thayer wrote, “one Israeli and two Palestinians (sisters, ages 13 and 5) died from rocket attacks. So a proportionate response, one presumes, would have required Israel to kill a single Palestinian and two of its own citizens.”

There were, I suppose, other “proportionate” responses available aside from killing one Palestinian and two Israelis. The Israel Defense Forces might have launched thousands of air strikes against targets in Gaza to match the thousands of Qassam rockets fired at the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon. It’s unlikely, however, that this is what Israel’s critics have in mind.

So what do they have in mind? What would a legitimate and “proportionate” response actually look like? Surely they don’t believe Israel should scrap its sophisticated weapons systems, build Qassam rockets, and launch those at Gaza instead.

The “disproportionate response” crowd doesn’t seem to mind that Israel struck back at Hamas per se. They aren’t saying Israel should only be allowed to negotiate with its enemies or that any use of force whatsoever is wrong. They’re clearly saying Israel should use less force, inflict less damage, or both.

One problem here is that it’s not at all clear how they think Israelis should go about doing it. The weapons used by each side can’t be the same. No one has ever said Israel ought to put its superior weapons systems in cold storage until Hamas can develop or purchase something similar. Presumably Israel is allowed to use its superior technology as long as the casualty count on each side is proportionate.

But how would that work in practice? A single Israeli air strike is going to kill at least as many people as Hamas can kill in twelve months. Does that mean Israel should be given a “license” of one air strike per year to use in the war? If IDF commanders want to take out a target where they expect five Hamas leaders or fighters to be killed, do they have to wait until five Israelis are killed first? If the Israelis endure rocket fire until one civilian is killed, do they get a “kill one Palestinian terrorist” coupon?

If strict proportionality isn’t necessary, what are the limits? If the Israelis kill two Palestinians for every Israeli that’s killed, is that okay? Or is doubling the number of casualties on each side too unfair to the Palestinians?

No army in the history of human civilization has ever hamstrung itself with these kind of restrictions in wartime, but let’s leave that aside for the moment and assume the IDF should be the first. Maybe Israeli commanders will be swayed by the legion of bloggers, Arab street radicals, and United Nations apparatchiks. What, precisely, should be the limits and rules of proportionate war? If critics expect to be taken seriously, they will need to advise.

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Re: Blago’s Revenge

Realizing that passivity has backfired on him, President-elect Obama now objects to Blago’s Senate pick, but clings to the Illinois Democrats’ plan for “a process of succession.” Left unsaid is how the Illinois voters are to be represented in the meantime, while the impeachment proceedings drag along, and why a special election isn’t the immediate solution. (As others point out, there will be an election to fill Rahm Emanuel’s seat anyway. So what’s wrong with a senate election?)

This is what comes from playing footsie with an ethical psychopath and failing to rebuke your own party. Senator Obama supported Blago for a second term as governor. Then he remained mute as ethical issues arose. Next he, through his aides, tried to conduct some type of negotiations for his former senate seat. And when it all came to a head, President-elect Obama let the state Democrats nix a quick deal for a special election. Now it is an unmitigated mess. Can Blago’s designee be denied a seat? Does Bobby Rush’s race gambit gain any traction? A big story just got bigger.

Sooner or later, despite his efforts to distance (but not denounce) the Chicago gang, President-elect Obama has been sucked into the Blago vortex. In the meantime, the President-elect hasn’t done himself any good nor established his moral leadership. Nothing new about these politics. I was hoping for a change.

Realizing that passivity has backfired on him, President-elect Obama now objects to Blago’s Senate pick, but clings to the Illinois Democrats’ plan for “a process of succession.” Left unsaid is how the Illinois voters are to be represented in the meantime, while the impeachment proceedings drag along, and why a special election isn’t the immediate solution. (As others point out, there will be an election to fill Rahm Emanuel’s seat anyway. So what’s wrong with a senate election?)

This is what comes from playing footsie with an ethical psychopath and failing to rebuke your own party. Senator Obama supported Blago for a second term as governor. Then he remained mute as ethical issues arose. Next he, through his aides, tried to conduct some type of negotiations for his former senate seat. And when it all came to a head, President-elect Obama let the state Democrats nix a quick deal for a special election. Now it is an unmitigated mess. Can Blago’s designee be denied a seat? Does Bobby Rush’s race gambit gain any traction? A big story just got bigger.

Sooner or later, despite his efforts to distance (but not denounce) the Chicago gang, President-elect Obama has been sucked into the Blago vortex. In the meantime, the President-elect hasn’t done himself any good nor established his moral leadership. Nothing new about these politics. I was hoping for a change.

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RNC Race

The contest for the RNC chairmanship stumbles along. The latest landmine is a potential “no bailout” motion that may come up for a vote at the January meeting, when the chairman is also selected. That might be fine for the outside challengers, but it’s a not-so-subtle jab at the Washington GOP leadership, who voted for the original bailout. And, of course, current Chairman Mike Duncan, his opponents are only too anxious to point out, vigorously defended the bailout as well.

Now, it may not be the motion itself which presents the most problems for Duncan. Certainly, there is a sense that, like the 0-16 Detroit Lions, the Republicans shouldn’t rehire the “coach.” So the bailout motion may be symptomatic of a larger sentiment: how can the RNC redefine and reform itself with the same leadership which presided over its 2008 wipeout?

The counterargument for Duncan is nevertheless a powerful one: Got anyone better?

The contest for the RNC chairmanship stumbles along. The latest landmine is a potential “no bailout” motion that may come up for a vote at the January meeting, when the chairman is also selected. That might be fine for the outside challengers, but it’s a not-so-subtle jab at the Washington GOP leadership, who voted for the original bailout. And, of course, current Chairman Mike Duncan, his opponents are only too anxious to point out, vigorously defended the bailout as well.

Now, it may not be the motion itself which presents the most problems for Duncan. Certainly, there is a sense that, like the 0-16 Detroit Lions, the Republicans shouldn’t rehire the “coach.” So the bailout motion may be symptomatic of a larger sentiment: how can the RNC redefine and reform itself with the same leadership which presided over its 2008 wipeout?

The counterargument for Duncan is nevertheless a powerful one: Got anyone better?

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2008′s Top Thank-You Notes

With the holiday season coming to a close, postal services worldwide are being inundated with two things: returned Brett Favre Jets jerseys and thank-you notes.

How do I know this?  Well, lucky for me, my mailman is an avid reader of CONTENTIONS, and was therefore more than happy to let me into the local post office after hours to open other people’s mail.  And let me tell you – it’s amazing what passes through zip code 19146!  So, now that I’ve hired a staff to sort through the new additions to my jersey collection, I present the top four thank-you notes from 2008.  (You’ll excuse me for not including any of the many letters from financial and automobile industry CEO’s to Congress–that would be super lame.)

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With the holiday season coming to a close, postal services worldwide are being inundated with two things: returned Brett Favre Jets jerseys and thank-you notes.

How do I know this?  Well, lucky for me, my mailman is an avid reader of CONTENTIONS, and was therefore more than happy to let me into the local post office after hours to open other people’s mail.  And let me tell you – it’s amazing what passes through zip code 19146!  So, now that I’ve hired a staff to sort through the new additions to my jersey collection, I present the top four thank-you notes from 2008.  (You’ll excuse me for not including any of the many letters from financial and automobile industry CEO’s to Congress–that would be super lame.)

4. Bashar al-Assad to Nicolas Sarkozy:

Dear Nick,

Thank you very much for not being a hard-ass.  When you terminated relations with me in January on account of my flagrant intervention in Lebanese politics, I briefly wondered whether you were really the light-and-lively, flamboyant showman that the French media always makes you out to be.  Luckily, I stuck with my guns, knew that you weren’t being serious, and continued to interfere in Beirut until I got exactly what I wanted.  Sure enough, you rewarded me for calling your bluff with an invitation to Paris, and then a rare visit to Damascus.  Thanks for not being a crêpe.  Haha.  Best,

Bash.

3. Joe Biden to Sarah Palin

Dear Gov. Palin,

Thank you very much for distracting the media throughout your ten-week adventure as Republican vice-presidential nominee.  Somehow, your interesting mix of winks, miserable interview performances, and general lack of specificity on policy issues allowed the media to overlook my own embarrassing flubs.  This includes flubs on things I was supposed to know, such as whether Hezbollah was kicked out of Lebanon; as well flubs on things that I wasn’t supposed to mention in the first place.  People like you and me … (abridged: this letter continued, single-spaced, for twelve pages) … And I look forward to the day when you run against my son, Senator Beau.  Merry Christmas,

JB.

2. Mikheil Saakashvili to Vladimir Putin

Dear Vlad,

Thank you very much for invading Georgia – it is probably the only thing in the world that could have made me seem likable.  For one week in August, I was able to get more coverage than the Beijing Olympics, and won more shows of sympathy than Hillary Clinton got after losing the Democratic nomination.  I consider myself truly blessed to have as my adversary a blindly aggressive world leader who has done even more to stifle his domestic opposition than I have.  For all of our differences, I hope we can meet again in the near future – you always make me look ridiculously tall. S lyubOv’yu,

The Saakster.

1. Eliot Spitzer to Rod Blagojevich

Dear Rod,

As I write this, I can only imagine what the New York tabloid headlines would have been had my mother given me your first name.  Haha.  Anyway, thanks for diverting everyone’s attention away from my own indiscretion.  I’m no longer America’s most embarrassing governor – and not just because I resigned in disgrace.  Actually, your attempt to sell Illinois’ open U.S. Senate seat might win me some credibility: when you leave Springfield empty-handed (or in cuffs – kinky!), people might salute me for at least enjoying the fruits of my criminal activitywith my socks on!  But don’t sweat it – if you really need to relax, just call the enclosed number and give them my username, NYClient9.  Best to your Missus,

George Fox.

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Blago’s Revenge

The Washington Post’s Fix explains the latest:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s apparent decision to appoint former state attorney general Roland Burris to the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama further complicates an already difficult situation for state and national Democrats.

Blagojevich has been operating under the cloud of scandal for the past month — since he was arrested following a series of wiretaps that seemed to show he was seeking to sell Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Before Christmas, Blagojevich made clear he had no plans to step down and insisted he was innocent of the corruption charges against him. He had not made any public statement regarding the appointment prior to today’s decision to choose Burris.

While Blagojevich is within his powers as governor to appoint Burris, early signs from Senate Democrats, who have control over who gets seated, are that any appointment by Blagojevich is a non-starter.

“He will not be seated,” predicted one well-connected Democratic source.

Regardless of what Senate Democrats do, Blagojevich has forced the ball into their court by naming Burris.

This was perhaps foreseeable, a result of the Illinios Democratic machine’s unwillingness to risk an election. But some of the blame lies with the President-elect as well. He, after all, could have forcefully urged a special election. Now, the legal challenges and the public embarrassment will keep the story–and the Obama administration’s involvement with it–going for weeks and weeks. Good start, guys.

The Washington Post’s Fix explains the latest:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s apparent decision to appoint former state attorney general Roland Burris to the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama further complicates an already difficult situation for state and national Democrats.

Blagojevich has been operating under the cloud of scandal for the past month — since he was arrested following a series of wiretaps that seemed to show he was seeking to sell Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Before Christmas, Blagojevich made clear he had no plans to step down and insisted he was innocent of the corruption charges against him. He had not made any public statement regarding the appointment prior to today’s decision to choose Burris.

While Blagojevich is within his powers as governor to appoint Burris, early signs from Senate Democrats, who have control over who gets seated, are that any appointment by Blagojevich is a non-starter.

“He will not be seated,” predicted one well-connected Democratic source.

Regardless of what Senate Democrats do, Blagojevich has forced the ball into their court by naming Burris.

This was perhaps foreseeable, a result of the Illinios Democratic machine’s unwillingness to risk an election. But some of the blame lies with the President-elect as well. He, after all, could have forcefully urged a special election. Now, the legal challenges and the public embarrassment will keep the story–and the Obama administration’s involvement with it–going for weeks and weeks. Good start, guys.

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The 21st Century Begins . . . Next Year

The 21st century begins next year, E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes this morning.  The September 11 attacks did not define the new era, because the Bush administration “resolutely forced events into the interpretive boxes fashioned in previous decades.”  Besides, terrorists had no coherent ideas.  Instead, after the Washington Post columnist tells us the United States is under the misapprehension that it is the world’s only superpower, he suggests the new century begins in 2009 because the United States will have a new president.

Did you follow that?  Dionne apparently has trouble making coherent arguments, but I nonetheless suspect his ultimate conclusion is correct.  After all, September 11 did not end the prosperity of the post-Cold War period, and the events of that day did not affect, in a meaningful way, that many individuals around the world.  This year and next, however, appear to be watershed years.  The global downturn promises to touch most everyone’s life and substantially change the geopolitical landscape.

Of course, it is exceedingly difficult to make accurate pronouncements about the historical significance of ongoing events.  Perhaps in fifty years we will be able to conclusively mark the beginning of the current century.  Yet events today do have an end-of-era feel to them.

The assumptions most of us made at the beginning of this year–about the continuation of globalization, the resurgence of India, the rise of the authoritarian states, and the general maintenance of geopolitical order, just to name a few of them–all seem so, well, 20th century.  Almost all of us were guilty of extrapolation a half year ago.  Now, many recognize the possibility of–or even predict-discontinuous change.

The world, as it changes, is always in transition.  Yet at some points in history we pass not only from one day to the next but from one period to another.  We could be approaching one of those moments.  In fact, I think we are.

Change has generally meant progress, and today we live in the best time in history.  Never has humankind created and consumed so much, possessed as much knowledge, or had so much power to accomplish its aims.  If we were confident about the future at the beginning of this year, we had good cause for optimism.  As more than six billion people strived to better their lot, the world looked as if it would continue to get better.

Yet further progress, however probable it once appeared, is not foreordained.  Next year, which looks as if it will be marked by economic failure and its inevitable geopolitical consequences, could start a time more consequential than any of us can imagine at this moment.

The 21st century begins next year, E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes this morning.  The September 11 attacks did not define the new era, because the Bush administration “resolutely forced events into the interpretive boxes fashioned in previous decades.”  Besides, terrorists had no coherent ideas.  Instead, after the Washington Post columnist tells us the United States is under the misapprehension that it is the world’s only superpower, he suggests the new century begins in 2009 because the United States will have a new president.

Did you follow that?  Dionne apparently has trouble making coherent arguments, but I nonetheless suspect his ultimate conclusion is correct.  After all, September 11 did not end the prosperity of the post-Cold War period, and the events of that day did not affect, in a meaningful way, that many individuals around the world.  This year and next, however, appear to be watershed years.  The global downturn promises to touch most everyone’s life and substantially change the geopolitical landscape.

Of course, it is exceedingly difficult to make accurate pronouncements about the historical significance of ongoing events.  Perhaps in fifty years we will be able to conclusively mark the beginning of the current century.  Yet events today do have an end-of-era feel to them.

The assumptions most of us made at the beginning of this year–about the continuation of globalization, the resurgence of India, the rise of the authoritarian states, and the general maintenance of geopolitical order, just to name a few of them–all seem so, well, 20th century.  Almost all of us were guilty of extrapolation a half year ago.  Now, many recognize the possibility of–or even predict-discontinuous change.

The world, as it changes, is always in transition.  Yet at some points in history we pass not only from one day to the next but from one period to another.  We could be approaching one of those moments.  In fact, I think we are.

Change has generally meant progress, and today we live in the best time in history.  Never has humankind created and consumed so much, possessed as much knowledge, or had so much power to accomplish its aims.  If we were confident about the future at the beginning of this year, we had good cause for optimism.  As more than six billion people strived to better their lot, the world looked as if it would continue to get better.

Yet further progress, however probable it once appeared, is not foreordained.  Next year, which looks as if it will be marked by economic failure and its inevitable geopolitical consequences, could start a time more consequential than any of us can imagine at this moment.

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Specter’s Challenge?

Pat Toomey, President of Club for Growth, pens an impassioned op-ed criticizing the Employee Free Choice Act, which reads in part:

The Employee Free Choice Act actually would take away employees’ choices by essentially forcing them to unionize. Despite the claims of this legislation’s advocates, it is a relatively simple matter to form a union under current law. If there is authentic employee support for unionizing, then organizers need only win a majority of votes in a private balloting process.

The legislation at issue would replace the freedoms protected by fair elections with the intimidating, divisive card-check policy. Workers could be directed to sign authorization forms in public – in front of coworkers and union officials. The opportunities for intimidation and coercion are obvious.

As Americans, we know that the right to a secret ballot is a cornerstone of a democratic society. Any proposal to deny voters a secret ballot in presidential, congressional or local elections would be considered ludicrous. So why should workers voting on their fates in the workplace be denied the same fundamental right?

Once this card-check procedure puts a union in place, mandatory dues would be deducted from workers’ paychecks.

Surely, middle-class families can’t afford to lose more of their hard-earned income against their will.

The law also would invite more of the kind of government overreaching we have seen in Detroit. For instance, it calls for government arbitrators to resolve contracts without votes by workers.

But it is not Toomey’s Club for Growth position that makes this op-ed noteworthy; it is his potential candidacy as a primary challenger to Sen. Arlen Specter. Specter beat Toomey in 2002 in a spirited race, but the threat of a re-match looms large and may be a greater threat to Specter than a general election face-off against Chris Matthews or a lesser-known Democrat.

So why is the Employee Free Choice Act key here? Specter, in the past , has supported “card check” — when there plainly weren’t enough votes to break a filibuster. Now his vote may be critical. But it remains to be seen, with Toomey lurking in the wings, whether he will be so enamored of card check legislation, which is now one of the top issues for conservatives — the very people who will turn out in an off-year primary race.

Political observers know that Specter is a survivor. He may irritate the base from time to time, but his masterful conduct of two Supreme court justice hearings during the Bush years earned him some kudos even from conservative critics. And he’s well aware of a potential challenge. That, frankly, may be a factor in his decision to conduct an exhaustive and probing hearing of Attorney General nominee Eric Holder. But a surefire way for him to stave off a primary challenge would be to demonstrate some deserved skepticism about card check. This shot across the bow by Toomey may test whether that’s what the savvy Specter has in mind.

Pat Toomey, President of Club for Growth, pens an impassioned op-ed criticizing the Employee Free Choice Act, which reads in part:

The Employee Free Choice Act actually would take away employees’ choices by essentially forcing them to unionize. Despite the claims of this legislation’s advocates, it is a relatively simple matter to form a union under current law. If there is authentic employee support for unionizing, then organizers need only win a majority of votes in a private balloting process.

The legislation at issue would replace the freedoms protected by fair elections with the intimidating, divisive card-check policy. Workers could be directed to sign authorization forms in public – in front of coworkers and union officials. The opportunities for intimidation and coercion are obvious.

As Americans, we know that the right to a secret ballot is a cornerstone of a democratic society. Any proposal to deny voters a secret ballot in presidential, congressional or local elections would be considered ludicrous. So why should workers voting on their fates in the workplace be denied the same fundamental right?

Once this card-check procedure puts a union in place, mandatory dues would be deducted from workers’ paychecks.

Surely, middle-class families can’t afford to lose more of their hard-earned income against their will.

The law also would invite more of the kind of government overreaching we have seen in Detroit. For instance, it calls for government arbitrators to resolve contracts without votes by workers.

But it is not Toomey’s Club for Growth position that makes this op-ed noteworthy; it is his potential candidacy as a primary challenger to Sen. Arlen Specter. Specter beat Toomey in 2002 in a spirited race, but the threat of a re-match looms large and may be a greater threat to Specter than a general election face-off against Chris Matthews or a lesser-known Democrat.

So why is the Employee Free Choice Act key here? Specter, in the past , has supported “card check” — when there plainly weren’t enough votes to break a filibuster. Now his vote may be critical. But it remains to be seen, with Toomey lurking in the wings, whether he will be so enamored of card check legislation, which is now one of the top issues for conservatives — the very people who will turn out in an off-year primary race.

Political observers know that Specter is a survivor. He may irritate the base from time to time, but his masterful conduct of two Supreme court justice hearings during the Bush years earned him some kudos even from conservative critics. And he’s well aware of a potential challenge. That, frankly, may be a factor in his decision to conduct an exhaustive and probing hearing of Attorney General nominee Eric Holder. But a surefire way for him to stave off a primary challenge would be to demonstrate some deserved skepticism about card check. This shot across the bow by Toomey may test whether that’s what the savvy Specter has in mind.

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Pursuing the Peace Process By Other Means

Earlier today, America’s Voices in Israel held a briefing for bloggers, in conjunction with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and  New York Consulate.  The conference call featured Jeremy Issacharoff, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Brigadier General in Reserve Relik Shafir of the Israeli Air Force, who spoke from Ashkelon.

They made it clear that Israel’s objective is not the reoccupation of Gaza or the elimination of Hamas, but rather the crippling of the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and its ability to threaten Israeli citizens, and the establishment of new “rules of the game” (including the elimination of arms smuggling from Iran).  There will be no ceasefire without the complete cessation of firing into Israel, and the “status quo ante is not an option.”  Asked about an “exit strategy,” they said it was Hamas that should be thinking of one.

There was no discussion on the conference call of the “peace process,” but I think it might be useful–particularly for those who think that Israel is currently pursuing a fruitless “military solution”–to view what is happening now in Gaza in terms of long-delayed Phase I of the “Performance-Based Road Map”:  the “sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”

That step was supposed to be taken by the Palestinian Authority (which committed itself to the Road Map in 2003 and “recommitted” itself at Annapolis in 2007).  It is something that everyone — the U.S., the UN, the EU, Russia, and the Palestinian Authority — all agreed was the necessary first step.  Given the complete failure of the PA to meet its commitment in Gaza, it is now being done by the IDF.

Earlier today, America’s Voices in Israel held a briefing for bloggers, in conjunction with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and  New York Consulate.  The conference call featured Jeremy Issacharoff, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Brigadier General in Reserve Relik Shafir of the Israeli Air Force, who spoke from Ashkelon.

They made it clear that Israel’s objective is not the reoccupation of Gaza or the elimination of Hamas, but rather the crippling of the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and its ability to threaten Israeli citizens, and the establishment of new “rules of the game” (including the elimination of arms smuggling from Iran).  There will be no ceasefire without the complete cessation of firing into Israel, and the “status quo ante is not an option.”  Asked about an “exit strategy,” they said it was Hamas that should be thinking of one.

There was no discussion on the conference call of the “peace process,” but I think it might be useful–particularly for those who think that Israel is currently pursuing a fruitless “military solution”–to view what is happening now in Gaza in terms of long-delayed Phase I of the “Performance-Based Road Map”:  the “sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”

That step was supposed to be taken by the Palestinian Authority (which committed itself to the Road Map in 2003 and “recommitted” itself at Annapolis in 2007).  It is something that everyone — the U.S., the UN, the EU, Russia, and the Palestinian Authority — all agreed was the necessary first step.  Given the complete failure of the PA to meet its commitment in Gaza, it is now being done by the IDF.

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A Quick Victory

A great deal is at stake in Israel’s current confrontation with Hamas in Gaza.  Beyond the immediate goal of crippling Hamas, Israel must reassert its tactical superiority over Iran’s regional allies, which was questioned following the inconclusive 2006 Lebanon war.  Israel’s show of strength is also beneficial to its indirect talks with Syria: the more decisive Israel’s victory over Hamas, the more compelling peace becomes for Damascus.

For this reason, Israel should not gamble on the ambitious–not to mention improbable–goal of “destroying” Hamas, which will require the execution of a ground invasion.  As Israel knows well, guerrilla wars are unpredictable, and a ground war would give Hamas an opening for success: all that Hamas would have to do to “win” is run out the clock and survive.  Remember: Israel is on a strict timetable – it needs to wrap this war up before its own campaign season hits full-force, and before the Bush administration leaves office.  Israel cannot afford the potential quagmire that a ground invasion might become; nor should it hand Hamas – which presently has no clear strategy – the obvious counter-strategy of guerrilla attrition.

Rather, Israel should move towards asserting a quick victory – immediately.  At the moment, Israel has Hamas cornered: through its air strikes on key Hamas targets, Israel has achieved a peak in its military offensive, and the threat of a ground invasion remains highly credible.  Now would be the perfect time for Israel to recruit pro-western Arab states for pushing Hamas towards relinquishing its rockets; or extending the truce well into the future; or releasing IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit; or some other meaningful concession to which Hamas might agree under the circumstances.

In the short-run, a quick Israeli victory would keep Hamas in power, and therefore do little to create an immediate opening for Israeli-Palestinian peace.  However, by using this peak in its military offensive to push for a more conservative diplomatic resolution, Israel would ensure Hamas’ ultimate political failure.  Indeed, having exposed Hamas’ military weakness and retaliated convincingly against its Qassam rockets, Israel would leave Hamas’ fate in Palestinian hands with elections barely a year away.

In turn, asserting a quick victory might give Israel the best opening for most efficiently catalyzing Hamas’ marginalization – a precondition for peace and stability in the Middle East.

A great deal is at stake in Israel’s current confrontation with Hamas in Gaza.  Beyond the immediate goal of crippling Hamas, Israel must reassert its tactical superiority over Iran’s regional allies, which was questioned following the inconclusive 2006 Lebanon war.  Israel’s show of strength is also beneficial to its indirect talks with Syria: the more decisive Israel’s victory over Hamas, the more compelling peace becomes for Damascus.

For this reason, Israel should not gamble on the ambitious–not to mention improbable–goal of “destroying” Hamas, which will require the execution of a ground invasion.  As Israel knows well, guerrilla wars are unpredictable, and a ground war would give Hamas an opening for success: all that Hamas would have to do to “win” is run out the clock and survive.  Remember: Israel is on a strict timetable – it needs to wrap this war up before its own campaign season hits full-force, and before the Bush administration leaves office.  Israel cannot afford the potential quagmire that a ground invasion might become; nor should it hand Hamas – which presently has no clear strategy – the obvious counter-strategy of guerrilla attrition.

Rather, Israel should move towards asserting a quick victory – immediately.  At the moment, Israel has Hamas cornered: through its air strikes on key Hamas targets, Israel has achieved a peak in its military offensive, and the threat of a ground invasion remains highly credible.  Now would be the perfect time for Israel to recruit pro-western Arab states for pushing Hamas towards relinquishing its rockets; or extending the truce well into the future; or releasing IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit; or some other meaningful concession to which Hamas might agree under the circumstances.

In the short-run, a quick Israeli victory would keep Hamas in power, and therefore do little to create an immediate opening for Israeli-Palestinian peace.  However, by using this peak in its military offensive to push for a more conservative diplomatic resolution, Israel would ensure Hamas’ ultimate political failure.  Indeed, having exposed Hamas’ military weakness and retaliated convincingly against its Qassam rockets, Israel would leave Hamas’ fate in Palestinian hands with elections barely a year away.

In turn, asserting a quick victory might give Israel the best opening for most efficiently catalyzing Hamas’ marginalization – a precondition for peace and stability in the Middle East.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Spot-on advice for the UAW: “Consider how a lower-paying job beats no job at all.”

Is it a “sharp move” for Ken Blackwell to ride to the defense of Chip Saltsman or does it simultaneously encourage the worst paranoid tendencies within the GOP base and highlight the perception that the RNC is “out to lunch”? Jim Geraghty tries his level best to explain the matter to those who seem puzzled that anyone could be offended by the “Barack the Magic Negro” CD.

Charlie Crist, hailing from a state where Republicans still win some elections, explains via Jim Greer why Republicans shouldn’t offend minorities.

But Saltsman keeps digging. Yeah, it’s all the liberal media’s fault. Just like McCain’s campaign manager said. Oh, well, I guess that didn’t work out so well either. (Others don’t think much of this tactic.)

This report seems to think Saltsman got a bump from the incident, but then the reporter cannot find more than a handful of people who came to Saltsman’s defense. Then it is incorrectly stated that Michael Steele offered no comment on the incident. In other words, the usual probing coverage one has come to expect of the MSM.

Some people seem to care an awful lot about the number and types of meetings the RNC is having before selecting its chairman. When your party is obsessed with such trivialities, it’s a good sign that things aren’t going well.

Did Hamas misjudge Israel? It is hard to tell — bringing on the slaughter and suffering of their own people is a tried-and-true tactic.

Bret Stephens sums up: “Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert likes to point out that no Hizballah rockets have fallen on Israeli soil since August 2006 — never mind that Hizballah is both politically and militarily more powerful today than it was before the war. A similar outcome in Gaza would be equally disastrous. This is not a counsel of restraint, of which Israel has shown more than enough through years of provocation. It is merely to point out that no ingenious conceit can disguise the fact that war offers no outcome other than victory or defeat.”

I’m not sure the juxaposition of scenes of the President-elect playing golf and the raging war is a good one for him. Granted, he is not yet President, but it does bring back memories of the Russian invasion of Georgia, when he also was on vacation. And also seemed to be hiding from the media to avoid comment on world events.

Grover Norquist nails the problem (or one of them) with the zillion dollar stimulus plan: “There have been demands by some Democrats that Congress pass the $750 Billion Bailout (it grows by the day) ‘right now’–as soon as the new Congress convenes. This sounds suspiciously like aluminum-siding salesmen that want to you buy now–don’t bother to read the fine print–sign now. It’s a good deal. This Democratic Congress was elected in 2006 swearing to stop the earmark racket. Stringing 1100 earmarks together and calling this money chain a ‘Bailout’ changes nothing.”

This update on Coleman-Franken tussling doesn’t sound like we’re headed for a quick, amicable resolution.

You didn’t think the Bush administration could do more damage in fostering bailout mania? Think again. Another $6B for the car companies.

Sen. Mitch McConnell wants to know where all the stimulus money is going. A good starting point: “We should have a simple test: will the yet-unwritten, reportedly trillion-dollar spending bill really create jobs and grow the economy — or will it simply create more government spending, more bureaucrats and deeper deficits?”

The New York Times eggs on President-elect Obama to push for “card check” legislation (the Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Act). I’m sure the Republican base would be delighted to have a knock-down-drag-out fight that derails any hope of bipartisan cooperation. Somehow I doubt the Obama administration is going to fall for this, but we’ll see just how indebted the Democratic party is to Big Labor.

Indeed, this suggests the Employee Free Choice Act may be on the back burner for now.

Spot-on advice for the UAW: “Consider how a lower-paying job beats no job at all.”

Is it a “sharp move” for Ken Blackwell to ride to the defense of Chip Saltsman or does it simultaneously encourage the worst paranoid tendencies within the GOP base and highlight the perception that the RNC is “out to lunch”? Jim Geraghty tries his level best to explain the matter to those who seem puzzled that anyone could be offended by the “Barack the Magic Negro” CD.

Charlie Crist, hailing from a state where Republicans still win some elections, explains via Jim Greer why Republicans shouldn’t offend minorities.

But Saltsman keeps digging. Yeah, it’s all the liberal media’s fault. Just like McCain’s campaign manager said. Oh, well, I guess that didn’t work out so well either. (Others don’t think much of this tactic.)

This report seems to think Saltsman got a bump from the incident, but then the reporter cannot find more than a handful of people who came to Saltsman’s defense. Then it is incorrectly stated that Michael Steele offered no comment on the incident. In other words, the usual probing coverage one has come to expect of the MSM.

Some people seem to care an awful lot about the number and types of meetings the RNC is having before selecting its chairman. When your party is obsessed with such trivialities, it’s a good sign that things aren’t going well.

Did Hamas misjudge Israel? It is hard to tell — bringing on the slaughter and suffering of their own people is a tried-and-true tactic.

Bret Stephens sums up: “Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert likes to point out that no Hizballah rockets have fallen on Israeli soil since August 2006 — never mind that Hizballah is both politically and militarily more powerful today than it was before the war. A similar outcome in Gaza would be equally disastrous. This is not a counsel of restraint, of which Israel has shown more than enough through years of provocation. It is merely to point out that no ingenious conceit can disguise the fact that war offers no outcome other than victory or defeat.”

I’m not sure the juxaposition of scenes of the President-elect playing golf and the raging war is a good one for him. Granted, he is not yet President, but it does bring back memories of the Russian invasion of Georgia, when he also was on vacation. And also seemed to be hiding from the media to avoid comment on world events.

Grover Norquist nails the problem (or one of them) with the zillion dollar stimulus plan: “There have been demands by some Democrats that Congress pass the $750 Billion Bailout (it grows by the day) ‘right now’–as soon as the new Congress convenes. This sounds suspiciously like aluminum-siding salesmen that want to you buy now–don’t bother to read the fine print–sign now. It’s a good deal. This Democratic Congress was elected in 2006 swearing to stop the earmark racket. Stringing 1100 earmarks together and calling this money chain a ‘Bailout’ changes nothing.”

This update on Coleman-Franken tussling doesn’t sound like we’re headed for a quick, amicable resolution.

You didn’t think the Bush administration could do more damage in fostering bailout mania? Think again. Another $6B for the car companies.

Sen. Mitch McConnell wants to know where all the stimulus money is going. A good starting point: “We should have a simple test: will the yet-unwritten, reportedly trillion-dollar spending bill really create jobs and grow the economy — or will it simply create more government spending, more bureaucrats and deeper deficits?”

The New York Times eggs on President-elect Obama to push for “card check” legislation (the Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Act). I’m sure the Republican base would be delighted to have a knock-down-drag-out fight that derails any hope of bipartisan cooperation. Somehow I doubt the Obama administration is going to fall for this, but we’ll see just how indebted the Democratic party is to Big Labor.

Indeed, this suggests the Employee Free Choice Act may be on the back burner for now.

Read Less

Arab Street vs. Arab State

The Washington Post‘s editorialists point today to one of the most interesting phenomenons of the Gaza war — the divide within the Arab world:

Israel’s battle with Hamas in Gaza is producing a schism among Muslim states. Iran and its ally Hizballah in Lebanon have joined Hamas’s Damascus-based leadership in calling for a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel — and also against the governments of Egypt and Jordan, which are accused of silently supporting Israel’s air attacks. Those governments, along with the West Bank Palestinian administration of President Mahmoud Abbas, have issued rote condemnations of Israel. But they have also accused Hamas of triggering the conflict by ending a ceasefire — and they have responded harshly to the Iranian camp, which has “practically declared war on Egypt,” as Cairo’s foreign minister angrily put it yesterday.

Don’t be fooled by this narrative of “moderates” against “extremists.” The real divide is less between organizations and countries than between the “leadership” and the “street.” The governments of some countries (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) may see the dangers of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas taking over. But their citizens do not.

Public opinion in Egypt is more likely to side with Hizballah than with President Mubarak. Jordanian citizens are more likely to support Hamas than blame it for causing the war. The 2008 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll, conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, shows clearly that most Egyptians and Jordanians blame the more moderate Palestinian Authority for the “situation in Gaza,” and more of them identify with Hamas than with the more moderate Fatah.

In the 2006 survey, Telhami found that Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah was deemed the most popular foreign leader in both Egypt and Jordan. People in both countries identified Israel and the U.S. as those posing “the biggest threat” to them. Seventy-one percent of Egyptians and 74 percent of Jordanians described their attitudes toward Hizballah after the war as “more positive.” Thirty-two percent of Egyptians supported Hamas; only 8 percent supported Fatah (a majority wanted a unity government).

None of this is new. And the dilemmas it presents to all parties involved are well known. For the next American President it means, plainly put, that supporting “moderate” Arab governments likely means less of a chance to boost America’s image in the Arab street. It also means that Arab governments will eventually not be able to go very far in battling the extremist forces in the region. They cannot constantly defy public opinion without risk ing internal unrest.

Those arguing that Israel‘s actions against Hamas in Gaza only serve Hamas’s cause, elevating its profile and earning it more support in the Arab street, should have the same feeling with respect to Egypt’s war of words against Nasrallah. This is a fight Hizballah is only too happy to have, considering that it is more popular with ordinary Egyptians than their own government. Those hoping for a better Middle East should remember that, in the meantime, the choice is between the devil we know and the one we don’t. In short: either “moderation” (and hypocrisy) or “democracy” (and extremism). If you think that’s an easy choice, think again.

The Washington Post‘s editorialists point today to one of the most interesting phenomenons of the Gaza war — the divide within the Arab world:

Israel’s battle with Hamas in Gaza is producing a schism among Muslim states. Iran and its ally Hizballah in Lebanon have joined Hamas’s Damascus-based leadership in calling for a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel — and also against the governments of Egypt and Jordan, which are accused of silently supporting Israel’s air attacks. Those governments, along with the West Bank Palestinian administration of President Mahmoud Abbas, have issued rote condemnations of Israel. But they have also accused Hamas of triggering the conflict by ending a ceasefire — and they have responded harshly to the Iranian camp, which has “practically declared war on Egypt,” as Cairo’s foreign minister angrily put it yesterday.

Don’t be fooled by this narrative of “moderates” against “extremists.” The real divide is less between organizations and countries than between the “leadership” and the “street.” The governments of some countries (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) may see the dangers of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas taking over. But their citizens do not.

Public opinion in Egypt is more likely to side with Hizballah than with President Mubarak. Jordanian citizens are more likely to support Hamas than blame it for causing the war. The 2008 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll, conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, shows clearly that most Egyptians and Jordanians blame the more moderate Palestinian Authority for the “situation in Gaza,” and more of them identify with Hamas than with the more moderate Fatah.

In the 2006 survey, Telhami found that Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah was deemed the most popular foreign leader in both Egypt and Jordan. People in both countries identified Israel and the U.S. as those posing “the biggest threat” to them. Seventy-one percent of Egyptians and 74 percent of Jordanians described their attitudes toward Hizballah after the war as “more positive.” Thirty-two percent of Egyptians supported Hamas; only 8 percent supported Fatah (a majority wanted a unity government).

None of this is new. And the dilemmas it presents to all parties involved are well known. For the next American President it means, plainly put, that supporting “moderate” Arab governments likely means less of a chance to boost America’s image in the Arab street. It also means that Arab governments will eventually not be able to go very far in battling the extremist forces in the region. They cannot constantly defy public opinion without risk ing internal unrest.

Those arguing that Israel‘s actions against Hamas in Gaza only serve Hamas’s cause, elevating its profile and earning it more support in the Arab street, should have the same feeling with respect to Egypt’s war of words against Nasrallah. This is a fight Hizballah is only too happy to have, considering that it is more popular with ordinary Egyptians than their own government. Those hoping for a better Middle East should remember that, in the meantime, the choice is between the devil we know and the one we don’t. In short: either “moderation” (and hypocrisy) or “democracy” (and extremism). If you think that’s an easy choice, think again.

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What YouTube Doesn’t Want You to See

Yesterday, the IDF did something innovative: it opened a channel on YouTube and posted videos to it that help explain why Israel is fighting Hamas. The site hosted about a dozen videos showing things like Israeli humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza and airstrikes that prevented terrorists from firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

This was apparently too much for YouTube, which moments ago removed several videos from the IDF’s channel, including the most-watched video, which showed a group of Hamas goons being blown up in an air strike as they loaded Katyusha missiles onto a truck. The point of such footage, as if it needed to be said, is not to revel in violence — it is to show the legitimacy of Israeli self-defense.

The rank double-standard that YouTube has applied to Israel is disturbing. YouTube hosts all manner of similar footage — much of it far more gory than the grainy infrared images posted by the IDF — of U.S. air strikes. Why is YouTube capitulating to those who do not wish for Israel to be able to tell its side of the story?

UPDATE: the IDF just uploaded a new video to its channel, this one of Hamas’ headquarters going out of business. Let’s see how long it lasts. Click here to watch.

Yesterday, the IDF did something innovative: it opened a channel on YouTube and posted videos to it that help explain why Israel is fighting Hamas. The site hosted about a dozen videos showing things like Israeli humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza and airstrikes that prevented terrorists from firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

This was apparently too much for YouTube, which moments ago removed several videos from the IDF’s channel, including the most-watched video, which showed a group of Hamas goons being blown up in an air strike as they loaded Katyusha missiles onto a truck. The point of such footage, as if it needed to be said, is not to revel in violence — it is to show the legitimacy of Israeli self-defense.

The rank double-standard that YouTube has applied to Israel is disturbing. YouTube hosts all manner of similar footage — much of it far more gory than the grainy infrared images posted by the IDF — of U.S. air strikes. Why is YouTube capitulating to those who do not wish for Israel to be able to tell its side of the story?

UPDATE: the IDF just uploaded a new video to its channel, this one of Hamas’ headquarters going out of business. Let’s see how long it lasts. Click here to watch.

Read Less




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