Commentary Magazine


Posts For: December 31, 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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