If Obama were a poker player holding a full house, he’d fold to let the guy across the table with a pair of twos feel like a winner. Not even Jimmy Carter was so adverse to squandering leverage when dealing with friends and foes.
Turkey has changed. During the last few months, Turkey has acted far more as an adversary than as an ally. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threw a diplomatic temper tantrum when the UN’s Palmer Commission found largely in Israel’s favor with regard to Israel’s enforcement of a blockade against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In its wake:
Today, the Israeli government formally accepted the Diplomatic Quartet’s proposal for restarting negotiations with the Palestinians. In doing so, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again made it crystal clear that the main, indeed, the only real obstacle to peace is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to go back to the table. The PA has refused this offer; it says it won’t talk unless Israel agrees in advance to concede everything on territory even before the negotiations begin.
This contradicts the conventional wisdom put forward by most talking heads on television and liberal pundits who continue to insist it is Netanyahu’s fault peace has not broken out. But when did any of those commentators (like the New York Times’ Tom Friedman who demanded last week Israel once again freeze building in the West Bank in order to entice the PA back to the table) let the facts get in the way of their pat stories about Israeli stubbornness?
The Canadian-Iranian blogger “Winston,” who writes at The Spirit of Man website, draws my attention to this important story. About three weeks ago, the news broke in the Iranian press of an embezzlement scandal. Three billion dollars went missing from an Iranian bank, the largest single instance of embezzlement in a regime where graft is commonplace. Now, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the managing director of Bank Melli, has reportedly fled to Canada. The Washington Post provides further context regarding the scope of the embezzlement, those involved, and how they link into other Iranian political scandals.
What the Washington Post does not mention is that Bank Melli has been involved in the transfer of funds to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah through the Qods Force, as well as Iran’s nuclear program. Bank Melli was among the Iranian financial institutions which the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned in 2007.
This was supposed to be the start of a comeback week for Rick Perry as he began to hit back hard at Mitt Romney and prepared for a better performance at the next Republican presidential debate. Instead, it has begun with him still playing defense on immigration, a questionable new policy initiative on border security and a potentially devastating revelation about the racially charged name of the hunting camp that he and his family used to lease.
It is the latter charge upon which most commentary about Perry will center this week and not without cause. But even if we accept his campaign’s claims of innocence about the “Niggerhead” hunting camp, the continued criticism from conservatives about his very defensible position on education benefits for the children of illegal immigrants would be a problem. So, too, would the feedback about his suggestion the United States military get involved in the drug war raging in Northern Mexico. All in all, it’s hard to escape the impression that unless he can do something to reverse the trend, Perry’s presidential hopes are sinking fast into the Texas twilight.
In an interview Friday with Al-Hayat TV, Hillary Clinton said she and Barack Obama “very much want to see a Palestinian state” – noting she first endorsed one in 1998 – but said she knows “it’s hard for [the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table] because they feel like they’ve been at this for a while and nothing has happened.” Actually quite a lot happened in the decade after Hillary first endorsed a Palestinian state:
(1) In 2000, the Palestinians were offered a state by Israel, and turned it down; (2) in 2001, the Palestinians rejected the Clinton Parameters; (3) in 2002, the U.S. endorsed a Palestinian state if the Palestinians built a practicing democracy (today the putative state is ruled half by a terrorist group and half by a party that hasn’t held an election in nearly six years); (4) in 2003, the Palestinians accepted the Roadmap but have yet to complete any of its three phases; (5) in 2004, Israel adopted a plan to hand over Gaza to the Palestinians; (6) in 2005, Israel removed every settler and soldier from Gaza, which the Palestinians turned into Hamastan in one week; (7) in 2006, the Palestinians elected a terrorist group to control their legislature; (8) in 2007, the U.S. convened the Annapolis conference to “accelerate” the Roadmap; (9) in 2008, after a year of final status negotiations, the Palestinians rejected still another Israeli offer of a state; and (10) in 2009, Israel offered the Palestinians negotiations again, which they refused, and initiated an unprecedented construction moratorium, which they ignored.
Conservatives have spent the last several months chewing up and spitting out a number of Republican presidential hopefuls as well as some who haven’t run. If you eliminate those who haven’t done well when exposed to scrutiny, like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, that means Republicans must either make their peace with Mitt Romney or re-examine their misgivings about the other candidates. Given the choices, that’s not much fun. So, it’s no surprise this has led to a second look at some who have very little chance of winning the nomination.
Thus, Herman Cain’s moment has arrived. His straw poll triumph in Florida over Rick Perry has led some thoughtful writers such as the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger and our own John Steele Gordon to ask why Cain shouldn’t be given serious consideration. Both buy into the notion electing a businessman without any government experience is a good idea given our economic problems. They rightly point out he has some good ideas about finances. But both also ignore or rationalize Cain’s ignorance about foreign policy while being seduced by the possibility the Godfather Pizza exec could split the African-American vote. While Cain has established he’s good at delivering cliché-laden one-liners in debates, there are still good reasons for conservatives not to waste time on him.