Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 24, 2010

Dismantling Our NATO-Linked Infrastructure

The recent cost-cutting proposal to eliminate Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) is followed by a report this week according to which the U.S. Second Fleet staff and headquarters are on the chopping block. Second Fleet operates out of Norfolk, Virginia and exercises command and control of U.S. naval operations in the North Atlantic. During the Cold War its level of operational tasking was staggering; in 2010, its main focus shifted to fleet training. Its maritime cognizance of Latin America and the Caribbean was transferred to the resurrected Fourth Fleet in 2008. Meanwhile, Second Fleet has been used since 9/11 to command homeland-defense activities off the East coast. Its Pacific counterpart, Third Fleet in San Diego, performs similar functions on the West coast.

Like JFCOM, however, Second Fleet has a unique role in our obligations with NATO, one that confers on it the densely packed title “Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence.” Wearing this hat, Second Fleet labors to improve Alliance interoperability and doctrine in naval and expeditionary operations. It performs as a naval arm of the Allied mission to which JFCOM contributes through its liaison with the Norfolk-based NATO command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT).

It may be considered a sign of sclerosis in an alliance — possibly even of senility — when the tasks assigned to its agencies can no longer be conveyed in sensible language. NATO has big plans for ACT, however, and expressed strong endorsement of its mission in May of this year. That alone ought to warrant more careful reflection over eliminating JFCOM and Second Fleet. But the proposal to gut the U.S. Navy’s command infrastructure in the Atlantic carries existential implications for our core alliance with Western Europe. The fresh perspective needed here is strategic, not budgetary.

In terms of military planning, getting rid of Second Fleet means no longer seeing the Atlantic as a threat axis or potential maritime battle space for which dedicated tactical preparation is required. Other commands can take over some of the grab-bag of functions Second Fleet has been assigned in recent years, but a numbered fleet is uniquely organized for an integrated approach to naval warfare.

Dispensing with Second Fleet appears out of step with Russian developments since 2007, when Vladimir Putin declared that he would resume the Soviet-era posture of forward operation and surveillance. Today, Russian bombers again operate close to North America and Western Europe. Russian submarines ply the Arctic, where Moscow’s claims of mineral rights conflict with those of NATO allies America, Canada, Norway, and Denmark. A year ago, the Russian navy announced its resumption of a submarine presence off the U.S. East coast, deploying its most modern submarines equipped with long-range, land-attack cruise missiles. An ambitious naval building program makes it clear that Russian leaders want to reestablish their maritime profile in multiple directions.

Under President Obama, however, the U.S. military is becoming less organized in secure the East coast and the Atlantic. The shift is not yet comprehensive, by any means, but the proposals to eliminate JFCOM and Second Fleet make it a trend. Obama’s decision last fall to abandon Bush’s missile-defense plan in Europe will leave the Eastern half of North America vulnerable — in a way the Western half is not — to ICBMs from the Eastern hemisphere. Now Obama’s Defense Department seems to be playing down the importance of training and developing joint naval tactics with NATO, at the same time it proposes to eliminate, in the Atlantic, the unique military role of the numbered fleet.

Neither alliances nor security conditions maintain themselves. It may be true that Second Fleet has been organized out of a job over the past decade, but it’s not clear that today’s geopolitical reality validates the decisions behind that transformation. An insecure Atlantic has never been a harbinger of peace. We may well come to regret having been so shortsighted — and sooner than we think.

The recent cost-cutting proposal to eliminate Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) is followed by a report this week according to which the U.S. Second Fleet staff and headquarters are on the chopping block. Second Fleet operates out of Norfolk, Virginia and exercises command and control of U.S. naval operations in the North Atlantic. During the Cold War its level of operational tasking was staggering; in 2010, its main focus shifted to fleet training. Its maritime cognizance of Latin America and the Caribbean was transferred to the resurrected Fourth Fleet in 2008. Meanwhile, Second Fleet has been used since 9/11 to command homeland-defense activities off the East coast. Its Pacific counterpart, Third Fleet in San Diego, performs similar functions on the West coast.

Like JFCOM, however, Second Fleet has a unique role in our obligations with NATO, one that confers on it the densely packed title “Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence.” Wearing this hat, Second Fleet labors to improve Alliance interoperability and doctrine in naval and expeditionary operations. It performs as a naval arm of the Allied mission to which JFCOM contributes through its liaison with the Norfolk-based NATO command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT).

It may be considered a sign of sclerosis in an alliance — possibly even of senility — when the tasks assigned to its agencies can no longer be conveyed in sensible language. NATO has big plans for ACT, however, and expressed strong endorsement of its mission in May of this year. That alone ought to warrant more careful reflection over eliminating JFCOM and Second Fleet. But the proposal to gut the U.S. Navy’s command infrastructure in the Atlantic carries existential implications for our core alliance with Western Europe. The fresh perspective needed here is strategic, not budgetary.

In terms of military planning, getting rid of Second Fleet means no longer seeing the Atlantic as a threat axis or potential maritime battle space for which dedicated tactical preparation is required. Other commands can take over some of the grab-bag of functions Second Fleet has been assigned in recent years, but a numbered fleet is uniquely organized for an integrated approach to naval warfare.

Dispensing with Second Fleet appears out of step with Russian developments since 2007, when Vladimir Putin declared that he would resume the Soviet-era posture of forward operation and surveillance. Today, Russian bombers again operate close to North America and Western Europe. Russian submarines ply the Arctic, where Moscow’s claims of mineral rights conflict with those of NATO allies America, Canada, Norway, and Denmark. A year ago, the Russian navy announced its resumption of a submarine presence off the U.S. East coast, deploying its most modern submarines equipped with long-range, land-attack cruise missiles. An ambitious naval building program makes it clear that Russian leaders want to reestablish their maritime profile in multiple directions.

Under President Obama, however, the U.S. military is becoming less organized in secure the East coast and the Atlantic. The shift is not yet comprehensive, by any means, but the proposals to eliminate JFCOM and Second Fleet make it a trend. Obama’s decision last fall to abandon Bush’s missile-defense plan in Europe will leave the Eastern half of North America vulnerable — in a way the Western half is not — to ICBMs from the Eastern hemisphere. Now Obama’s Defense Department seems to be playing down the importance of training and developing joint naval tactics with NATO, at the same time it proposes to eliminate, in the Atlantic, the unique military role of the numbered fleet.

Neither alliances nor security conditions maintain themselves. It may be true that Second Fleet has been organized out of a job over the past decade, but it’s not clear that today’s geopolitical reality validates the decisions behind that transformation. An insecure Atlantic has never been a harbinger of peace. We may well come to regret having been so shortsighted — and sooner than we think.

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Western Culture and the Mosque II

At Atlas Shrugs, Pam Geller has the transcript of a lecture given by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf in Australia in 2005. What strikes me most about it is how well its sentiments align with the canon of left-wing elitist thought in the West. Rauf’s 2005 address is a textbook example of playing on the heroic civilizational guilt perpetually assumed by the Western left.

There’s hardly a shibboleth left uninvoked by the time Rauf is done. It’s actually funny to tote them up:  there are the obligatory references to America having blood on its hands; to our bomber aircraft generating the pretext for terrorism; to “U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq” killing half a million children; to the N-word and our penchant for “creating ethnic conflicts”; to the British colonial authorities bringing division and strife to the Middle East.

Of Islam, Rauf says the following:

From the point of view of Islamic theology, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic history, the vast majority of Islamic history, it has been shaped or defined by a notion of multiculturalism and multireligiosity, if you might use that term.

The point is not whether this is true or false; the point is that Rauf chooses to make his case in these button-pushing terms. He is also perfectly aligned with the Western left in his take on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. In his view:

[A] resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict [is] number one on the list of things that need to be done because you address this problem and a whole host of problems will be addressed automatically.

But he frames the Israeli role with prejudice. “Israelis,” he says, “have moved beyond Zionism.”

It’s like ticking off a checklist. The U.S. media have comfortably framed the debate over the Park 51 mosque as a case of Middle America versus Islam, but in a very real sense, as others have noted, it’s a case of Middle America versus our leftist cultural elite. In that sense, it almost doesn’t matter what Imam Rauf “really” believes or intends.  What matters is that he tailors his appeals to a Western cultural elite from which Middle America is decisively alienated.

There are many reasons for this internecine alienation, only a small percentage of them related to radical Islamism. Regarding the Ground Zero mosque itself, arguments can be advanced about the dangerous opportunities it may give Islamists. But I suspect that one of the most egregious offenses perceived by average Americans is that our cultural elite is – once again – ridiculing and abusing the people for not hewing to a narrative of culpability and self-abnegation that has no constructive purpose.

At Atlas Shrugs, Pam Geller has the transcript of a lecture given by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf in Australia in 2005. What strikes me most about it is how well its sentiments align with the canon of left-wing elitist thought in the West. Rauf’s 2005 address is a textbook example of playing on the heroic civilizational guilt perpetually assumed by the Western left.

There’s hardly a shibboleth left uninvoked by the time Rauf is done. It’s actually funny to tote them up:  there are the obligatory references to America having blood on its hands; to our bomber aircraft generating the pretext for terrorism; to “U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq” killing half a million children; to the N-word and our penchant for “creating ethnic conflicts”; to the British colonial authorities bringing division and strife to the Middle East.

Of Islam, Rauf says the following:

From the point of view of Islamic theology, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic history, the vast majority of Islamic history, it has been shaped or defined by a notion of multiculturalism and multireligiosity, if you might use that term.

The point is not whether this is true or false; the point is that Rauf chooses to make his case in these button-pushing terms. He is also perfectly aligned with the Western left in his take on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. In his view:

[A] resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict [is] number one on the list of things that need to be done because you address this problem and a whole host of problems will be addressed automatically.

But he frames the Israeli role with prejudice. “Israelis,” he says, “have moved beyond Zionism.”

It’s like ticking off a checklist. The U.S. media have comfortably framed the debate over the Park 51 mosque as a case of Middle America versus Islam, but in a very real sense, as others have noted, it’s a case of Middle America versus our leftist cultural elite. In that sense, it almost doesn’t matter what Imam Rauf “really” believes or intends.  What matters is that he tailors his appeals to a Western cultural elite from which Middle America is decisively alienated.

There are many reasons for this internecine alienation, only a small percentage of them related to radical Islamism. Regarding the Ground Zero mosque itself, arguments can be advanced about the dangerous opportunities it may give Islamists. But I suspect that one of the most egregious offenses perceived by average Americans is that our cultural elite is – once again – ridiculing and abusing the people for not hewing to a narrative of culpability and self-abnegation that has no constructive purpose.

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Fifteen Minutes of Fame

It seems as though Shirley Sherrod’s has not run out yet:

Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official ousted during a racial firestorm last month, declined Tuesday to return to the agency, though she said it was tempting.

Sherrod and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that she may work with the agency in a consulting capacity in the future to help it improve its outreach to minorities. She told reporters she did not think she could say yes to a job “at this point, with all that has happened.”

“I look forward to some type of relationship with the department in the future,” she said. “We do need to work on the issues of discrimination and race in this country.”

Translation: “You gotta be nuts — go back to paper pushing at the Agriculture Department when I can get a TV gig, write a book and become a professional gadfly!?”

Nothing in this dreary story of bad behavior turned out exactly as it initially appeared. Sherrod was a racist, and then she wasn’t, and then she appeared to be merely one of many in the civil rights grievance-mongering business. The tape was stunning, and then it was misleading. The administration acted unreasonably and then, … well that part is still true. Also true is that there is a cottage industry of 15-minute stars — Joe the Plumber, Shirley Sherrod — who soon mistake attention for talent and eventually vanish from the public eye. If only it took a mere 15 minutes.

It seems as though Shirley Sherrod’s has not run out yet:

Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official ousted during a racial firestorm last month, declined Tuesday to return to the agency, though she said it was tempting.

Sherrod and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that she may work with the agency in a consulting capacity in the future to help it improve its outreach to minorities. She told reporters she did not think she could say yes to a job “at this point, with all that has happened.”

“I look forward to some type of relationship with the department in the future,” she said. “We do need to work on the issues of discrimination and race in this country.”

Translation: “You gotta be nuts — go back to paper pushing at the Agriculture Department when I can get a TV gig, write a book and become a professional gadfly!?”

Nothing in this dreary story of bad behavior turned out exactly as it initially appeared. Sherrod was a racist, and then she wasn’t, and then she appeared to be merely one of many in the civil rights grievance-mongering business. The tape was stunning, and then it was misleading. The administration acted unreasonably and then, … well that part is still true. Also true is that there is a cottage industry of 15-minute stars — Joe the Plumber, Shirley Sherrod — who soon mistake attention for talent and eventually vanish from the public eye. If only it took a mere 15 minutes.

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Setting the Stage

John Boehner’s timing is pretty good. Today, in a pre-election rabble-rousing speech, he called on Obama to can his economic team:

Virtually no one in the White House has run a small business and created jobs in the private sector. That lack of real-world, hands-on experience shows in the policies coming out of this Administration. … We have been told that the president’s economic team is ‘exhausted’ — already, his budget director and his chief economist have moved on or are about to. Clearly, they see the writing on the wall, and the president should too.

President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council.

He also made other suggestions — retain the Bush tax cuts, veto job-killing bills (e.g., card check, energy tax), and support aggressive cuts in nondefense discretionary spending. And he argued for repeal of ObamaCare’s “1099 mandate”:

The president’s government takeover of health care is already wreaking havoc on employers and entrepreneurs. This is a law that – upon its enactment – triggered the creation of more than 160 boards, bureaucracies, programs, and commissions. By the end of July, Washington had already racked up nearly 3,833 pages of regulations to direct the law’s implementation.

One of the new law’s most controversial mandates requires small businesses to report any total purchases that run more than $600. … What is the point of making employers and entrepreneurs spend $17 billion to send all this paperwork to Washington, where it’s going to cost about $10 billion to log it in and file it away? Talk about overhead.

And on the same day as Boehner’s speech, this news bolstered conservatives’ argument that the economy is still in the dregs:

Housing sales in July plunged to their lowest level in more than a decade, exceeding even the grimmest forecasts. … “Truly gut-wrenching,” said Jennifer H. Lee, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets. July sales were down 27.2 percent from June. It was the lowest rate for existing-home sales, which include houses, condos, co-ops and town houses, since 1999. For sales of single-family homes, it was the lowest rate since 1995.

The chances that Obama will embrace the Minority Leader’s suggestions are nil. But after the November election, there might be something to talk about. Especially if both the economic news and the Democrats’ political fortunes continue to sink.

John Boehner’s timing is pretty good. Today, in a pre-election rabble-rousing speech, he called on Obama to can his economic team:

Virtually no one in the White House has run a small business and created jobs in the private sector. That lack of real-world, hands-on experience shows in the policies coming out of this Administration. … We have been told that the president’s economic team is ‘exhausted’ — already, his budget director and his chief economist have moved on or are about to. Clearly, they see the writing on the wall, and the president should too.

President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council.

He also made other suggestions — retain the Bush tax cuts, veto job-killing bills (e.g., card check, energy tax), and support aggressive cuts in nondefense discretionary spending. And he argued for repeal of ObamaCare’s “1099 mandate”:

The president’s government takeover of health care is already wreaking havoc on employers and entrepreneurs. This is a law that – upon its enactment – triggered the creation of more than 160 boards, bureaucracies, programs, and commissions. By the end of July, Washington had already racked up nearly 3,833 pages of regulations to direct the law’s implementation.

One of the new law’s most controversial mandates requires small businesses to report any total purchases that run more than $600. … What is the point of making employers and entrepreneurs spend $17 billion to send all this paperwork to Washington, where it’s going to cost about $10 billion to log it in and file it away? Talk about overhead.

And on the same day as Boehner’s speech, this news bolstered conservatives’ argument that the economy is still in the dregs:

Housing sales in July plunged to their lowest level in more than a decade, exceeding even the grimmest forecasts. … “Truly gut-wrenching,” said Jennifer H. Lee, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets. July sales were down 27.2 percent from June. It was the lowest rate for existing-home sales, which include houses, condos, co-ops and town houses, since 1999. For sales of single-family homes, it was the lowest rate since 1995.

The chances that Obama will embrace the Minority Leader’s suggestions are nil. But after the November election, there might be something to talk about. Especially if both the economic news and the Democrats’ political fortunes continue to sink.

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The New Political Division

Peter writes,

This Social Security gambit, which will fail politically (as has so much of what Obama and his aides have tried), is simply more evidence that the core premise of the Obama campaign — that he would transcend the usual divisions in American politics, that he would elevate our discourse and reach across the aisle in an unprecedented way, and that he would act reasonably and responsibly in facing America’s challenges — was a mirage. It was an effective optical illusion, but it was, in fact, an optical illusion. And every week, it seems, it is being revealed as such.

I certainly agree that the gambit will fail. And one of the main reasons Obama has and will fail “to transcend the usual divisions in American politics,” is, I think, that the usual divisions aren’t there this election cycle. They may never be there again.

John Fund had a fascinating article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about the pollster Scott Rasmussen. The White House was stunned by Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts last winter. Rasmussen, he writes, thinks a principal reason,

lies in a significant division among the American public that he has tracked for the past few years — a division between what he calls the Mainstream Public and the Political Class. …

Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree with the mainstream view . … “The major division in this country is no longer between parties but between political elites and the people,” Mr. Rasmussen says.

Timothy Carney in the Washington Examiner writes that,

The current GOP fault line is not exactly conservatives vs. moderates or new guard vs. old guard. For 2010, the rivalry is the Tea Party wing against the K Street wing. To tell which kind of Republican a candidate is, see how the Democrats attack him: If  he’s branded a shill for Wall Street, he’s from the K Street wing. If he’s labeled an extremist outside the mainstream, he’s a Tea Partier.

More tellingly, study their campaign contributions. K Street Republicans’ coffers are filled by the political action committees of defense contractors, drug companies, lobbying firms, and Wall Street banks. A Tea Party Republican is funded by the Club for Growth or the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is run by the Republican leadership’s least-favorite colleague, Jim DeMint.

The K Street wing is business as usual, whereas the tea parties represent the new politics that has, for thirty years and more, been slouching towards Washington to be born. The election of Chris Christie, Scott Brown, and Bob McDonnell is a sign of the growing power of tea-party politics. The SEC suit against New Jersey is a sign that the old rules are changing, as is the spate of news stories about the power of public-employee unions and their excessive compensation that is bankrupting states.

Politicians, like generals, prefer to fight the last war. The politicians who have figured out that the election of 2010 is being fought along new lines will still have jobs after November 2nd. But the Democrats under Obama have a big problem. They are the party of the political elite and big government. They can’t remake themselves in two months. That’s why they are in such terrible trouble.

Peter writes,

This Social Security gambit, which will fail politically (as has so much of what Obama and his aides have tried), is simply more evidence that the core premise of the Obama campaign — that he would transcend the usual divisions in American politics, that he would elevate our discourse and reach across the aisle in an unprecedented way, and that he would act reasonably and responsibly in facing America’s challenges — was a mirage. It was an effective optical illusion, but it was, in fact, an optical illusion. And every week, it seems, it is being revealed as such.

I certainly agree that the gambit will fail. And one of the main reasons Obama has and will fail “to transcend the usual divisions in American politics,” is, I think, that the usual divisions aren’t there this election cycle. They may never be there again.

John Fund had a fascinating article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about the pollster Scott Rasmussen. The White House was stunned by Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts last winter. Rasmussen, he writes, thinks a principal reason,

lies in a significant division among the American public that he has tracked for the past few years — a division between what he calls the Mainstream Public and the Political Class. …

Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree with the mainstream view . … “The major division in this country is no longer between parties but between political elites and the people,” Mr. Rasmussen says.

Timothy Carney in the Washington Examiner writes that,

The current GOP fault line is not exactly conservatives vs. moderates or new guard vs. old guard. For 2010, the rivalry is the Tea Party wing against the K Street wing. To tell which kind of Republican a candidate is, see how the Democrats attack him: If  he’s branded a shill for Wall Street, he’s from the K Street wing. If he’s labeled an extremist outside the mainstream, he’s a Tea Partier.

More tellingly, study their campaign contributions. K Street Republicans’ coffers are filled by the political action committees of defense contractors, drug companies, lobbying firms, and Wall Street banks. A Tea Party Republican is funded by the Club for Growth or the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is run by the Republican leadership’s least-favorite colleague, Jim DeMint.

The K Street wing is business as usual, whereas the tea parties represent the new politics that has, for thirty years and more, been slouching towards Washington to be born. The election of Chris Christie, Scott Brown, and Bob McDonnell is a sign of the growing power of tea-party politics. The SEC suit against New Jersey is a sign that the old rules are changing, as is the spate of news stories about the power of public-employee unions and their excessive compensation that is bankrupting states.

Politicians, like generals, prefer to fight the last war. The politicians who have figured out that the election of 2010 is being fought along new lines will still have jobs after November 2nd. But the Democrats under Obama have a big problem. They are the party of the political elite and big government. They can’t remake themselves in two months. That’s why they are in such terrible trouble.

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Americans Get It

Rasmussen has an interesting poll concerning which countries Americans consider to be our allies:

Eighty-seven percent (87%) rate our neighbor to the north as a U.S. ally, while two percent (2%) view Canada as an enemy. Six percent (6%) place it somewhere between an ally and an enemy. … Great Britain, whose had a special relationship with America from the start, is seen as an ally by 85%, an enemy by two percent (2%) and somewhere in between by eight percent (8%). … Next comes Israel, recognized by the United States immediately after its independence in 1948. America has been the Jewish state’s strongest supporter ever since. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans regard Israel as an ally, but six percent (6%) say it’s an enemy. For 17%, Israel falls somewhere in between.

Alas, Obama does not seem to share the warm feelings about Britain or Israel, and the relationship between the U.S. and these countries is indisputably worse than it was under the Bush administration, or, for that matter, the Clinton administration. Americans have figured that out as well, according to a separate Rasmussen poll earlier this month:

U.S. voters are now as pessimistic about America’s relationship with Israel as they are about relations with the Muslim world. A new Rasmussen Reports nationwide telephone survey finds that one-in-three voters (34%) believe the U.S. relationship with Israel will be worse one year from now.

Let’s hope that voters are wrong on that one and that after 18 months of acrimonious dealings with the Jewish state, Obama rethinks he approach. As for Britain, I don’t imagine Obama can top sending back the Churchill bust or giving cheesy gifts to the prime minister. But he might do well to spend more time reassuring on our skittish allies and less time fawning over despots and throwing concessions at the Russians’ feet.

Rasmussen has an interesting poll concerning which countries Americans consider to be our allies:

Eighty-seven percent (87%) rate our neighbor to the north as a U.S. ally, while two percent (2%) view Canada as an enemy. Six percent (6%) place it somewhere between an ally and an enemy. … Great Britain, whose had a special relationship with America from the start, is seen as an ally by 85%, an enemy by two percent (2%) and somewhere in between by eight percent (8%). … Next comes Israel, recognized by the United States immediately after its independence in 1948. America has been the Jewish state’s strongest supporter ever since. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans regard Israel as an ally, but six percent (6%) say it’s an enemy. For 17%, Israel falls somewhere in between.

Alas, Obama does not seem to share the warm feelings about Britain or Israel, and the relationship between the U.S. and these countries is indisputably worse than it was under the Bush administration, or, for that matter, the Clinton administration. Americans have figured that out as well, according to a separate Rasmussen poll earlier this month:

U.S. voters are now as pessimistic about America’s relationship with Israel as they are about relations with the Muslim world. A new Rasmussen Reports nationwide telephone survey finds that one-in-three voters (34%) believe the U.S. relationship with Israel will be worse one year from now.

Let’s hope that voters are wrong on that one and that after 18 months of acrimonious dealings with the Jewish state, Obama rethinks he approach. As for Britain, I don’t imagine Obama can top sending back the Churchill bust or giving cheesy gifts to the prime minister. But he might do well to spend more time reassuring on our skittish allies and less time fawning over despots and throwing concessions at the Russians’ feet.

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Failure Would Be Refreshing

We are about to begin — if it doesn’t end before it starts — another round of the endless talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The sense of  unreality pervades; all but the most obtuse observers understand this charade is futile. Mahmoud Abbas threatens to break off talks if Israel doesn’t extend a settlement ban which it has said it won’t extend. The notion that Abbas is ready to surrender those things that he must surrender to obtain a state and make a binding peace deal is laughable. As one of the canniest observers remarks, a Palestinian state becomes reality only if:

… its citizens can renounce once and for all the creeping Islamism that would sooner see them suffering the miseries and oppression of twelfth-century religious and cultural practice than thriving in a modern society; if they can cast off at last the self-strangling mythology of their own victimhood;  and if they can shed their century-old yearning to set the blood of their Jewish neighbors flowing in the streets. And if, that is, those same despised Jewish neighbors can succeed in destroying the Iranian bomb that threatens the potential state, Palestine—whose capital will be Ramallah—no less than the Jewish state, Israel—whose eternal and undivided capital is Jerusalem—which in the meantime the “Palestinians” have erased from their maps and the schoolbooks of their children.

(Read the whole thing for the compelling argument as to why Ramallah, not Jerusalem, is becoming the “defacto capital” for the future Palestinian state.)

The talks, as I have argued, are a thin reed holding together Obama’s dwindling credibility. It is not a good thing for an American president to be utterly discredited and embarrassed, to have a top foreign-policy goal shattered. But perhaps it is a needed wake-up call — for the administration, for the Palestinians, and for those who have, for too long, been obsessed with dragging those not ready to negotiate to the negotiating table. Admitting failure is the first step to a more realistic approach to the Middle East and to refocusing ourselves on the only issue that matters, the potential for a nuclear-armed Iran.

We are about to begin — if it doesn’t end before it starts — another round of the endless talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The sense of  unreality pervades; all but the most obtuse observers understand this charade is futile. Mahmoud Abbas threatens to break off talks if Israel doesn’t extend a settlement ban which it has said it won’t extend. The notion that Abbas is ready to surrender those things that he must surrender to obtain a state and make a binding peace deal is laughable. As one of the canniest observers remarks, a Palestinian state becomes reality only if:

… its citizens can renounce once and for all the creeping Islamism that would sooner see them suffering the miseries and oppression of twelfth-century religious and cultural practice than thriving in a modern society; if they can cast off at last the self-strangling mythology of their own victimhood;  and if they can shed their century-old yearning to set the blood of their Jewish neighbors flowing in the streets. And if, that is, those same despised Jewish neighbors can succeed in destroying the Iranian bomb that threatens the potential state, Palestine—whose capital will be Ramallah—no less than the Jewish state, Israel—whose eternal and undivided capital is Jerusalem—which in the meantime the “Palestinians” have erased from their maps and the schoolbooks of their children.

(Read the whole thing for the compelling argument as to why Ramallah, not Jerusalem, is becoming the “defacto capital” for the future Palestinian state.)

The talks, as I have argued, are a thin reed holding together Obama’s dwindling credibility. It is not a good thing for an American president to be utterly discredited and embarrassed, to have a top foreign-policy goal shattered. But perhaps it is a needed wake-up call — for the administration, for the Palestinians, and for those who have, for too long, been obsessed with dragging those not ready to negotiate to the negotiating table. Admitting failure is the first step to a more realistic approach to the Middle East and to refocusing ourselves on the only issue that matters, the potential for a nuclear-armed Iran.

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Richard Cohen on the Ground Zero Mosque

Of late it has become something of a hobby of mine to point out how the left is becoming increasingly unhinged and alienated from America. The event that seems to have triggered the latest outpouring of rage is the debate about the proposal to build a mosque and community center, led by Imam Rauf, near Ground Zero. It’s not simply the debate itself that is causing the venom; it is that defenders of building the mosque are losing the argument. The public — including those in New York City, that well-known epicenter of conservatism — overwhelmingly sides with those who oppose building the mosque. This is causing some liberals to spin out of control.

The latest liberal to do so, as Jen noted earlier, is Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, who writes:

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” Daisy Khan, a founder of the mosque (and the wife of the imam), rejected any compromise. She was right to do so because to compromise is to accede, even a bit, to the arguments of bigots, demagogues or the merely uninformed. This is no longer her fight. The fight is now all of ours.

It has become something of a cliche, I know, but no one ever put this sort of thing better than William Butler Yeats in his poem “The Second Coming.” “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Some passionate intensity from the best is past due.

Cohen is right about one thing; the Yeats quote is a cliché. But he’s wrong that those who are arguing for a compromise are bigots, demagogues, or merely uninformed. And his argument that what this debate is missing is “passionate intensity” is ludicrous. In fact, the debate has often been dominated by passion rather than by reason, as evidenced by the left’s eagerness to brand the mosque’s opponents as racists, bigots, and Islamophobes. (I have expressed concerns about what some on the right, such as Newt Gingrich, have said as well; see here and here.)

In addition, the deep, eternal meaning the left has tried to infuse this issue with — the effort to cast this debate as pitting the Children of Light against the Children of Darkness, between those who revere the Constitution and those who want to shred it — is both wrong and slightly amusing. One can imagine the lyrics of Peter, Paul, and Mary running through the minds of animated liberals everywhere. It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. v. Bull Connor all over again.

This is not a debate about high constitutional principle; if it were, presumably President Obama — the icon of so many liberals and a former professor of constitutional law — would have taken a stand on where the mosque belongs. Instead, he has refused to say what he thinks. The debate is about whether it is prudent and wise for Imam Rauf to build the mosque and community center within two blocks of Ground Zero. And on this, reasonable people can disagree.

On this particular matter one other point needs to be repeated: If the point of this enterprise was to deepen interfaith dialogue and understanding, it has failed miserably. And if those insisting the mosque be built at the original location persist in their efforts — if they heed Cohen’s advice and jettison compromise as morally treasonous — things will get a good deal worse. Contrary to what some liberals are arguing, no great constitutional principle will have been ratified. Instead, a debate that is harmful to our country, including to Muslim Americans, will be intensified.

This is potentially dangerous stuff we’re dealing with — and I can’t understand why those who insist that they are pining for reconciliation and comity are pushing an idea that is doing the opposite.

Of late it has become something of a hobby of mine to point out how the left is becoming increasingly unhinged and alienated from America. The event that seems to have triggered the latest outpouring of rage is the debate about the proposal to build a mosque and community center, led by Imam Rauf, near Ground Zero. It’s not simply the debate itself that is causing the venom; it is that defenders of building the mosque are losing the argument. The public — including those in New York City, that well-known epicenter of conservatism — overwhelmingly sides with those who oppose building the mosque. This is causing some liberals to spin out of control.

The latest liberal to do so, as Jen noted earlier, is Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, who writes:

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” Daisy Khan, a founder of the mosque (and the wife of the imam), rejected any compromise. She was right to do so because to compromise is to accede, even a bit, to the arguments of bigots, demagogues or the merely uninformed. This is no longer her fight. The fight is now all of ours.

It has become something of a cliche, I know, but no one ever put this sort of thing better than William Butler Yeats in his poem “The Second Coming.” “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Some passionate intensity from the best is past due.

Cohen is right about one thing; the Yeats quote is a cliché. But he’s wrong that those who are arguing for a compromise are bigots, demagogues, or merely uninformed. And his argument that what this debate is missing is “passionate intensity” is ludicrous. In fact, the debate has often been dominated by passion rather than by reason, as evidenced by the left’s eagerness to brand the mosque’s opponents as racists, bigots, and Islamophobes. (I have expressed concerns about what some on the right, such as Newt Gingrich, have said as well; see here and here.)

In addition, the deep, eternal meaning the left has tried to infuse this issue with — the effort to cast this debate as pitting the Children of Light against the Children of Darkness, between those who revere the Constitution and those who want to shred it — is both wrong and slightly amusing. One can imagine the lyrics of Peter, Paul, and Mary running through the minds of animated liberals everywhere. It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. v. Bull Connor all over again.

This is not a debate about high constitutional principle; if it were, presumably President Obama — the icon of so many liberals and a former professor of constitutional law — would have taken a stand on where the mosque belongs. Instead, he has refused to say what he thinks. The debate is about whether it is prudent and wise for Imam Rauf to build the mosque and community center within two blocks of Ground Zero. And on this, reasonable people can disagree.

On this particular matter one other point needs to be repeated: If the point of this enterprise was to deepen interfaith dialogue and understanding, it has failed miserably. And if those insisting the mosque be built at the original location persist in their efforts — if they heed Cohen’s advice and jettison compromise as morally treasonous — things will get a good deal worse. Contrary to what some liberals are arguing, no great constitutional principle will have been ratified. Instead, a debate that is harmful to our country, including to Muslim Americans, will be intensified.

This is potentially dangerous stuff we’re dealing with — and I can’t understand why those who insist that they are pining for reconciliation and comity are pushing an idea that is doing the opposite.

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Finally, Barney Frank Confesses

You must remember the denials, the hissy fits, and the outrage. In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, Democrats — and Barney Frank specifically — screamed that it was outrageous to hold them responsible for promoting home ownership to everyone and anyone, regardless of creditworthiness, or for their cozy relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Well, getting a jump on his Day of Atonement, Barney Frank has decided to come clean:

For years, Frank was a staunch supporter of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government housing agencies that played such an enormous role in the financial meltdown that thrust the economy into the Great Recession. But in a recent CNBC interview, Frank told me that he was ready to say goodbye to Fannie and Freddie.

“I hope by next year we’ll have abolished Fannie and Freddie,” he said. Remarkable. And he went on to say that “it was a great mistake to push lower-income people into housing they couldn’t afford and couldn’t really handle once they had it.” He then added, “I had been too sanguine about Fannie and Freddie.”

When I asked Frank about a long-term phase-out plan that would shrink Fannie and Freddie portfolios and mortgage-purchase limits, and merge the agencies into the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for a separate low-income program that would get government out of middle-income housing subsidies, he replied: “Larry, that, I think, is exactly what we should be doing.”

Hmm. You mean it wasn’t all George W. Bush’s fault? You mean conservative economists and pundits who pointed to the role of Democrats and their Freddie and Fannie clients had it right? You mean the White House meme – that a vote for Republicans (who unsuccessfully tried to rein in Freddie and Fannie) would be reckless — is hooey?

Now imagine if George Bush came forward to say, “I was wrong on Iraq.” Do you think, just maybe, that would be front-page headlines? Just asking.

You must remember the denials, the hissy fits, and the outrage. In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, Democrats — and Barney Frank specifically — screamed that it was outrageous to hold them responsible for promoting home ownership to everyone and anyone, regardless of creditworthiness, or for their cozy relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Well, getting a jump on his Day of Atonement, Barney Frank has decided to come clean:

For years, Frank was a staunch supporter of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government housing agencies that played such an enormous role in the financial meltdown that thrust the economy into the Great Recession. But in a recent CNBC interview, Frank told me that he was ready to say goodbye to Fannie and Freddie.

“I hope by next year we’ll have abolished Fannie and Freddie,” he said. Remarkable. And he went on to say that “it was a great mistake to push lower-income people into housing they couldn’t afford and couldn’t really handle once they had it.” He then added, “I had been too sanguine about Fannie and Freddie.”

When I asked Frank about a long-term phase-out plan that would shrink Fannie and Freddie portfolios and mortgage-purchase limits, and merge the agencies into the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for a separate low-income program that would get government out of middle-income housing subsidies, he replied: “Larry, that, I think, is exactly what we should be doing.”

Hmm. You mean it wasn’t all George W. Bush’s fault? You mean conservative economists and pundits who pointed to the role of Democrats and their Freddie and Fannie clients had it right? You mean the White House meme – that a vote for Republicans (who unsuccessfully tried to rein in Freddie and Fannie) would be reckless — is hooey?

Now imagine if George Bush came forward to say, “I was wrong on Iraq.” Do you think, just maybe, that would be front-page headlines? Just asking.

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Enthusiasm Chasm

The Washington Post reports that the “enthusiasm gap” is very real:

Polling has routinely showed Republicans much more enthusiastic about voting in the 2010 election than Democrats. A Gallup poll last week showed twice as many Republicans (46 percent) say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting as Democrats (23 percent).

Raw voter data backs up the polling. A three million-voter advantage for Democrats in the 2006 midterm primaries has turned into a three million-voter overall advantage for the GOP now. And numbers compiled by Republicans show the percentage of voters taking part in GOP primaries has reached a two-decade high in more than half of the 37 states holding primaries so far this year.

The Post makes its case by analyzing “the turnout in several key states, which featured competitive governor or Senate primaries on both sides. We then compared it to previous years; the relative 2010 GOP turnout was higher in almost every case.” The data from Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Connecticut, and Arkansas is compelling.

Perhaps the Democratic base will rouse itself to get to the polls. Maybe the college kids and first-time voters in 2008 will show up to keep Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and Harry Reid as Majority Leader. But they’d have to get pumped up very quickly and so far there is no sign they are willing to bestir themselves to spare Obama a stunning rebuke.

The Washington Post reports that the “enthusiasm gap” is very real:

Polling has routinely showed Republicans much more enthusiastic about voting in the 2010 election than Democrats. A Gallup poll last week showed twice as many Republicans (46 percent) say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting as Democrats (23 percent).

Raw voter data backs up the polling. A three million-voter advantage for Democrats in the 2006 midterm primaries has turned into a three million-voter overall advantage for the GOP now. And numbers compiled by Republicans show the percentage of voters taking part in GOP primaries has reached a two-decade high in more than half of the 37 states holding primaries so far this year.

The Post makes its case by analyzing “the turnout in several key states, which featured competitive governor or Senate primaries on both sides. We then compared it to previous years; the relative 2010 GOP turnout was higher in almost every case.” The data from Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Connecticut, and Arkansas is compelling.

Perhaps the Democratic base will rouse itself to get to the polls. Maybe the college kids and first-time voters in 2008 will show up to keep Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and Harry Reid as Majority Leader. But they’d have to get pumped up very quickly and so far there is no sign they are willing to bestir themselves to spare Obama a stunning rebuke.

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The 31 Years’ War

Bret Stephens makes a convincing argument that we took too long to decide to and then act decisively to oust Saddam Hussein. Dubbing it the Twenty Years’ War (beginning with Desert Storm, which “proved an apt name for a military operation that had been blinded to its own real purposes”), he writes:

Kuwait was liberated but Saddam stayed on for another 12 years, supposedly—as Madeleine Albright notoriously put it—”in a box.” In that box, he killed tens of thousands of Iraq’s Shiites, caused a humanitarian crisis among the Kurds, attempted to assassinate George H.W. Bush, profited from a sanctions regime that otherwise starved his own people, compelled a “no-fly zone” that cost the U.S. $1 billion a year to police, defied more than a dozen U.N. sanctions, corrupted the U.N. Secretariat, evicted U.N. weapons inspectors and gave cash prizes to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. …

The Twenty Years’ War lasted as long as it did because the first Bush administration failed to finish it when it could, and because the Clinton administration pretended it wasn’t happening. Should we now draw the lesson that hesitation and delay are the best policy? Or that wars are best fought swiftly to their necessary conclusion? The former conclusion did not ultimately spare us the war. The latter would have spared us one of 20 years.

Well, this would seem equally apt for the Thirty-One Years War that Iran has waged against the U.S. and the West more generally. Multiple administrations have done nothing as it waged a proxy war through terrorists groups against the West. Neither the Bush administration or the current one has responded to the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers (and Iraqi allies as well) killed by Iran’s weapons and operatives in Iraq. Iran too has committed human-rights atrocities against its own people and defied UN resolutions.

So now we are faced with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran that would, if it possesses nuclear weapons, certainly be emboldened to continue and step up its war on the West. The question for the Obama administration is whether to finally engage the enemy, thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and commit ourselves to regime change. The chances are slim indeed that this president would rise to the occasion. But perhaps, if Israel buys the world sufficient time (yes, we are down to whether the Jewish state will pick up the slack for the sleeping superpower), the next president will.

Bret Stephens makes a convincing argument that we took too long to decide to and then act decisively to oust Saddam Hussein. Dubbing it the Twenty Years’ War (beginning with Desert Storm, which “proved an apt name for a military operation that had been blinded to its own real purposes”), he writes:

Kuwait was liberated but Saddam stayed on for another 12 years, supposedly—as Madeleine Albright notoriously put it—”in a box.” In that box, he killed tens of thousands of Iraq’s Shiites, caused a humanitarian crisis among the Kurds, attempted to assassinate George H.W. Bush, profited from a sanctions regime that otherwise starved his own people, compelled a “no-fly zone” that cost the U.S. $1 billion a year to police, defied more than a dozen U.N. sanctions, corrupted the U.N. Secretariat, evicted U.N. weapons inspectors and gave cash prizes to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. …

The Twenty Years’ War lasted as long as it did because the first Bush administration failed to finish it when it could, and because the Clinton administration pretended it wasn’t happening. Should we now draw the lesson that hesitation and delay are the best policy? Or that wars are best fought swiftly to their necessary conclusion? The former conclusion did not ultimately spare us the war. The latter would have spared us one of 20 years.

Well, this would seem equally apt for the Thirty-One Years War that Iran has waged against the U.S. and the West more generally. Multiple administrations have done nothing as it waged a proxy war through terrorists groups against the West. Neither the Bush administration or the current one has responded to the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers (and Iraqi allies as well) killed by Iran’s weapons and operatives in Iraq. Iran too has committed human-rights atrocities against its own people and defied UN resolutions.

So now we are faced with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran that would, if it possesses nuclear weapons, certainly be emboldened to continue and step up its war on the West. The question for the Obama administration is whether to finally engage the enemy, thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and commit ourselves to regime change. The chances are slim indeed that this president would rise to the occasion. But perhaps, if Israel buys the world sufficient time (yes, we are down to whether the Jewish state will pick up the slack for the sleeping superpower), the next president will.

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If Israel Won’t Say It, Who Will?

In yesterday’s post, I discussed some of the negative consequences of Israel’s habit of treating its own negotiating demands as unimportant. But there is another devastating consequence: its effect on international public opinion.

Take the latest Israel Project poll, which found that even in America, normally a pro-Israel bastion, only 45 percent of respondents believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is committed to peace, and only 51 percent — down from 63 percent last year — think America should support Israel.

The second finding isn’t due solely to the first, but neither is it unrelated: even Americans who realize that peace isn’t possible now expect Israel to be committed to it in principle.

So why do Americans think Netanyahu doesn’t want peace? Well, everyone knows the Palestinians have demands that he refuses to meet (like a pre-negotiations commitment to the 1949 armistice lines); they say so constantly. But few people realize Israel has demands the Palestinians have consistently refused to meet because Israel doesn’t say so.

To understand how deep this Israeli pathology runs, consider official Israel’s response to a New York Times editorial earlier this month. The editorial urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin direct talks with Israel but sympathized with the fear he “no doubt” feels that Netanyahu “will use the process to give the illusion of progress while never addressing Palestinian concerns about borders, security, refugees and the future of Jerusalem” — and that despite this, “the Palestinians will be blamed if negotiations fail.”

Based on past experience, the reverse is far more likely: in previous talks, Israel made massive concessions on these issues while the Palestinian made no concessions at all to Israel’s concerns, yet most of the world still blamed Israel. The Times, however, neglected to mention that possibility.

That a leading American paper doesn’t recognize (or doesn’t acknowledge) that Israel, too, has legitimate concerns that must be addressed, and so far haven’t been, is problematic enough. Still, given the Times’s pro-Palestinian bias, perhaps you can’t expect anything better.

But it turns out you also can’t expect anything better from Israel’s own ambassador to the U.S. In the letter he wrote in response, Michael Oren correctly slammed the Times for implying that Netanyahu, rather than Abbas, has resisted direct talks until now; for ignoring “Israel’s attempts, in 2000 and 2008,” to address the Palestinians’ final-status concerns, “only to be rebuffed by Palestinian leaders, including Mr. Abbas”; and for its ad hominem attack on Netanyahu (whom it termed a “master manipulator”).

But he didn’t say a word about Israel having concerns of its own on “borders, security, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem” that the Palestinians have repeatedly failed to address. And if Israel’s own ambassador won’t say so, who will?

This is precisely why most of the world does blame Israel for the failure of past talks. Everyone knows Israel has yet to satisfy Palestinian demands; the Palestinians proclaim this nonstop. But few people even know what Israel’s demands are, let alone that the Palestinians have rejected every single one.

And unless Israel starts telling them, they never will.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed some of the negative consequences of Israel’s habit of treating its own negotiating demands as unimportant. But there is another devastating consequence: its effect on international public opinion.

Take the latest Israel Project poll, which found that even in America, normally a pro-Israel bastion, only 45 percent of respondents believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is committed to peace, and only 51 percent — down from 63 percent last year — think America should support Israel.

The second finding isn’t due solely to the first, but neither is it unrelated: even Americans who realize that peace isn’t possible now expect Israel to be committed to it in principle.

So why do Americans think Netanyahu doesn’t want peace? Well, everyone knows the Palestinians have demands that he refuses to meet (like a pre-negotiations commitment to the 1949 armistice lines); they say so constantly. But few people realize Israel has demands the Palestinians have consistently refused to meet because Israel doesn’t say so.

To understand how deep this Israeli pathology runs, consider official Israel’s response to a New York Times editorial earlier this month. The editorial urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin direct talks with Israel but sympathized with the fear he “no doubt” feels that Netanyahu “will use the process to give the illusion of progress while never addressing Palestinian concerns about borders, security, refugees and the future of Jerusalem” — and that despite this, “the Palestinians will be blamed if negotiations fail.”

Based on past experience, the reverse is far more likely: in previous talks, Israel made massive concessions on these issues while the Palestinian made no concessions at all to Israel’s concerns, yet most of the world still blamed Israel. The Times, however, neglected to mention that possibility.

That a leading American paper doesn’t recognize (or doesn’t acknowledge) that Israel, too, has legitimate concerns that must be addressed, and so far haven’t been, is problematic enough. Still, given the Times’s pro-Palestinian bias, perhaps you can’t expect anything better.

But it turns out you also can’t expect anything better from Israel’s own ambassador to the U.S. In the letter he wrote in response, Michael Oren correctly slammed the Times for implying that Netanyahu, rather than Abbas, has resisted direct talks until now; for ignoring “Israel’s attempts, in 2000 and 2008,” to address the Palestinians’ final-status concerns, “only to be rebuffed by Palestinian leaders, including Mr. Abbas”; and for its ad hominem attack on Netanyahu (whom it termed a “master manipulator”).

But he didn’t say a word about Israel having concerns of its own on “borders, security, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem” that the Palestinians have repeatedly failed to address. And if Israel’s own ambassador won’t say so, who will?

This is precisely why most of the world does blame Israel for the failure of past talks. Everyone knows Israel has yet to satisfy Palestinian demands; the Palestinians proclaim this nonstop. But few people even know what Israel’s demands are, let alone that the Palestinians have rejected every single one.

And unless Israel starts telling them, they never will.

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The False Meme

It is as predictable as it is ineffective — the liberal media’s attempts to sow discord between mainstream Republicans and Tea Partiers. The latest from the New York Times declares that Marco Rubio is veering from the “Tea Party script.” Has he changed his views on the stimulus? Gone soft on the Bush tax cuts? Renounced the Tea Party focus on the gallons of red ink spilled by the Obami? Uh, no. The sum total of the veering is:

Mr. Rubio spends less and less time trying to tap into the discontent that has been at the forefront of the midterm elections. A wiser course for Republicans, he said, is offering an alternative, not simply being the angry opposition.

Um, that’s not really veering off the Tea Party script, is it? No. And in fact, this sounds exactly like what the Tea Partiers are looking for:

“I am not running for the United States Senate because I want to be the opposition to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” he replied in a measured tone [at a campaign stop]. “I’m running for Senate because I want to create an alternative.”

At each stop, Mr. Rubio speaks of the urgency to restore “American exceptionalism,” which he says is slipping away under Democratic control. He said that the private sector had been stymied by uncertainty under the Obama administration and that the health care law should be repealed.

He doesn’t agree with meddling with the 14th Amendment, but immigration has never been the core message of the fiscally minded Tea Party movement. And that’s it.

The headline and premise of the article are simply false. Rubio embraces the entirety of the Tea Party message — he, too, wants to “refudiate” Obama. But in desperate times, any old argument will do for the Gray Lady to calm its readers’ frayed nerves.

It is as predictable as it is ineffective — the liberal media’s attempts to sow discord between mainstream Republicans and Tea Partiers. The latest from the New York Times declares that Marco Rubio is veering from the “Tea Party script.” Has he changed his views on the stimulus? Gone soft on the Bush tax cuts? Renounced the Tea Party focus on the gallons of red ink spilled by the Obami? Uh, no. The sum total of the veering is:

Mr. Rubio spends less and less time trying to tap into the discontent that has been at the forefront of the midterm elections. A wiser course for Republicans, he said, is offering an alternative, not simply being the angry opposition.

Um, that’s not really veering off the Tea Party script, is it? No. And in fact, this sounds exactly like what the Tea Partiers are looking for:

“I am not running for the United States Senate because I want to be the opposition to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” he replied in a measured tone [at a campaign stop]. “I’m running for Senate because I want to create an alternative.”

At each stop, Mr. Rubio speaks of the urgency to restore “American exceptionalism,” which he says is slipping away under Democratic control. He said that the private sector had been stymied by uncertainty under the Obama administration and that the health care law should be repealed.

He doesn’t agree with meddling with the 14th Amendment, but immigration has never been the core message of the fiscally minded Tea Party movement. And that’s it.

The headline and premise of the article are simply false. Rubio embraces the entirety of the Tea Party message — he, too, wants to “refudiate” Obama. But in desperate times, any old argument will do for the Gray Lady to calm its readers’ frayed nerves.

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Reconciliation=Capitulation, It Seems

Richard Cohen’s column, I will choose to believe, was written before Imam Rauf’s distinctly un-moderate comments (“the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda,” he said, and the only solution to the Middle East, he opined, is a one-state solution) were revealed. Otherwise, Cohen’s entire column, like much of what has been written by the left, would be dishonest (in ignoring the views and intentions of the mosque builders) and ludicrous (by insisting that this is about reconciliation or religious freedom). But even on its own terms, Cohen’s column reinforces my own concern about the counterproductive nature (if not downright danger) of “Muslim Outreach.”

He chastises the Ground Zero mosque opponents for suggesting some compromise. No deal, says Cohen on behalf of the “9/11 is America’s fault” mosque builder. For Rauf and his ilk, there is no compromise, only capitulation, because we are not entitled to expect more of the mosque proponents:

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” Daisy Khan, a founder of the mosque (and the wife of the imam), rejected any compromise. She was right to do so because to compromise is to accede, even a bit, to the arguments of bigots, demagogues or the merely uninformed. This is no longer her fight. The fight is now all of ours.

Well, you see my point about Muslim outreach. If the entire argument becomes “we don’t care about non-Muslim sentiments or concerns” and “we don’t have to give an inch” (or a few blocks), there is no reconciliation or healing in the offing. It is a farce, and a pretext to generate more animosity toward non-Muslims. Or, in the case of the left, it’s another excuse to defame Americans and demonstrate precisely why we would do better to have fewer Harvard law school professors in the White House. This is a prime example of why values and character rather than a resume are the most critical attributes of a successful president. There is no substitute for a president who understands his fellow citizens and is able to rally them in a battle for their civilization — against those who cannot accept compromise. They didn’t name that mosque Cordoba for nothing.

Richard Cohen’s column, I will choose to believe, was written before Imam Rauf’s distinctly un-moderate comments (“the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda,” he said, and the only solution to the Middle East, he opined, is a one-state solution) were revealed. Otherwise, Cohen’s entire column, like much of what has been written by the left, would be dishonest (in ignoring the views and intentions of the mosque builders) and ludicrous (by insisting that this is about reconciliation or religious freedom). But even on its own terms, Cohen’s column reinforces my own concern about the counterproductive nature (if not downright danger) of “Muslim Outreach.”

He chastises the Ground Zero mosque opponents for suggesting some compromise. No deal, says Cohen on behalf of the “9/11 is America’s fault” mosque builder. For Rauf and his ilk, there is no compromise, only capitulation, because we are not entitled to expect more of the mosque proponents:

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” Daisy Khan, a founder of the mosque (and the wife of the imam), rejected any compromise. She was right to do so because to compromise is to accede, even a bit, to the arguments of bigots, demagogues or the merely uninformed. This is no longer her fight. The fight is now all of ours.

Well, you see my point about Muslim outreach. If the entire argument becomes “we don’t care about non-Muslim sentiments or concerns” and “we don’t have to give an inch” (or a few blocks), there is no reconciliation or healing in the offing. It is a farce, and a pretext to generate more animosity toward non-Muslims. Or, in the case of the left, it’s another excuse to defame Americans and demonstrate precisely why we would do better to have fewer Harvard law school professors in the White House. This is a prime example of why values and character rather than a resume are the most critical attributes of a successful president. There is no substitute for a president who understands his fellow citizens and is able to rally them in a battle for their civilization — against those who cannot accept compromise. They didn’t name that mosque Cordoba for nothing.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The Emergency Committee for Israel wonders how it is that Joe Sestak can claim to be pro-Israel but accept Chuck Hagel’s endorsement. “Today’s endorsement of Joe Sestak by one of the leading anti-Israel politicians in the United States again exposes the danger a Senator Sestak would pose to the U.S.-Israel alliance. He claims to be pro-Israel, but his actions — whether fundraising for CAIR, or signing a letter that criticizes Israel for defending herself from Hamas, or seeking the endorsement of a former Senator who is notorious for his hostility to Israel — tells voters all they need to know about the kind of Senator Joe Sestak would be.”

You wonder how the left is going to defend Imam Rauf as “moderate” now.

Andy McCarthy wonders how a “one state solution” is a moderate position for Rauf. But your tax dollars are paying to send him overseas!

You wonder if Hillary would even settle for a VP slot on the ticket in 2012: “Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now regard President Obama’s political views as extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) place his views in the mainstream, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. By comparison, 51% see the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as mainstream. Thirty-five percent (35%) think Clinton’s views are extreme.” Maybe something like: “Clinton-Dean 2012, the electable wing of the Democratic Party”?

You wonder how John Brennan deals with a crisis when he can’t handle moderately probing questions from a newspaper editorial board. Awkward, as they say. (h/t Quin Hillyer)

You wonder what Justice Kagan thinks about this: “A U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration’s new guidelines on the sensitive issue. The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos. Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.” Let’s hope she’s ethical enough to recuse herself if it gets to the Supreme Court.

You wonder what Dick Durbin is thinking. “The second-ranking Senate Democrat broke ranks with his party’s leader this weekend by announcing his support for the Lower Manhattan Islamic center and mosque. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said Sunday that those who are opposed to the mosque are trying to divide the country with fear and hate.” That’s a rather harsh thing to say about Harry Reid and Howard Dean.

The Emergency Committee for Israel wonders how it is that Joe Sestak can claim to be pro-Israel but accept Chuck Hagel’s endorsement. “Today’s endorsement of Joe Sestak by one of the leading anti-Israel politicians in the United States again exposes the danger a Senator Sestak would pose to the U.S.-Israel alliance. He claims to be pro-Israel, but his actions — whether fundraising for CAIR, or signing a letter that criticizes Israel for defending herself from Hamas, or seeking the endorsement of a former Senator who is notorious for his hostility to Israel — tells voters all they need to know about the kind of Senator Joe Sestak would be.”

You wonder how the left is going to defend Imam Rauf as “moderate” now.

Andy McCarthy wonders how a “one state solution” is a moderate position for Rauf. But your tax dollars are paying to send him overseas!

You wonder if Hillary would even settle for a VP slot on the ticket in 2012: “Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now regard President Obama’s political views as extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) place his views in the mainstream, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. By comparison, 51% see the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as mainstream. Thirty-five percent (35%) think Clinton’s views are extreme.” Maybe something like: “Clinton-Dean 2012, the electable wing of the Democratic Party”?

You wonder how John Brennan deals with a crisis when he can’t handle moderately probing questions from a newspaper editorial board. Awkward, as they say. (h/t Quin Hillyer)

You wonder what Justice Kagan thinks about this: “A U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration’s new guidelines on the sensitive issue. The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos. Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.” Let’s hope she’s ethical enough to recuse herself if it gets to the Supreme Court.

You wonder what Dick Durbin is thinking. “The second-ranking Senate Democrat broke ranks with his party’s leader this weekend by announcing his support for the Lower Manhattan Islamic center and mosque. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said Sunday that those who are opposed to the mosque are trying to divide the country with fear and hate.” That’s a rather harsh thing to say about Harry Reid and Howard Dean.

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