For the first time since Israel’s housing and cost-of-living protests began, last night there was no massive Saturday night demonstration in Tel Aviv. But there were several well-attended demonstrations in other cities such as Haifa, Beersheba and Afula. Though many leftist groups and non-governmental organizations have sought to exploit this movement for their own political ends, it cannot be denied the protesters have touched a nerve. The vast majority of Israelis see them as a reasonable response to genuine problems.
Though much of the coverage of these demonstrations have sought to shoehorn them into a political context in which the Israeli government can be depicted as the villain of the story, COMMENTARY contributor Sol Stern points out in the City Journal that in fact this unrest represents an opportunity for Prime Minister Netanyahu to advance the cause of free market reform.
The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran has a great story today about the great Carter Malkasian. Who’s Carter Malkesian, you may ask? The full answer comes form the Post article. The short answer is that Malkasian is an academic who, working as a temporary hire at the State Department, has spent the last two years as the diplomatic adviser to the Marines in Garmser–once one of the most heavily contested districts in Afghanistan. It has calmed down tremendously thanks in no small part to the hard work and skill of “Carter Sahib” — a term of respect that local elders have conferred on this American.
Chandrasekaran shows how Malkasian learned Pashto so he could communicate with the locals in their own tongue; and then he ventured out of the perimeter, flouting State Department rules that emphasize safety over effectiveness. In his own way, Malkasian is the American analogue to legendary Brits such as Robert Warburton who spent 18 years as political officer on the Northwest Frontier, 1879-1898. In the process Warburton acquired irreplaceable knowledge of the situation and matchless credibility with the locals.
At the Republican presidential debates in the coming months, there will be no shortage of candidates. But after a tumultuous Saturday which brought us a new and formidable contender in the person of Texas Governor Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann’s victory in the Ames straw poll, there are now only three persons who have a chance to win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination: Mitt Romney, Perry and Bachmann.
Some potential candidates and their supporters may try to distract us from that fact. It is also true that Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, Herman Cain and others will take part in future debates and may receive some votes in the early caucuses and primaries. But it is now clear only one of that trio of Romney, Perry and Bachmann will be the person standing on the podium in Tampa next September accepting the GOP nomination.