The decree issued last week by Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces banning religious slogans in the parliamentary election campaign is a potentially positive development for the country’s post-Mubarak political reconstruction. In the run-up to the vote, beginning November 28, “electoral campaigns based on the use of religious slogans or on racial or gender segregation are banned.” Violators could face a fine and three months imprisonment.
Observers may regret such policies erode the very freedoms of speech which democracy is supposed to promote, but this is a misconstruction. Unrestrained democracy can lead anywhere; the secret of political stability, the route to international legitimacy, and the recipe to a secure freedom of speech in the longer run, is liberal democracy.
I’ve taken Herman Cain to task in the past for his appalling ignorance of foreign policy issues. He promised to brush up on these matters, but it appears that one of his greatest strengths — his unflappability and imperviousness to criticism — can also be a great weakness. As his appearance on “Meet the Press” this morning showed, rather than study up to fix an embarrassing shortcoming, the Godfather Pizza executive hasn’t done much to correct his lack of knowledge about war and peace issues which are, after all, a president’s first responsibility.
When pressed for answers today on Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq, the best Cain could do was to repeat his mantra that he would consult experts and then figure it out. Which is to say, he knows he hasn’t a clue but hopes no one will care. Durng the program, Cain admitted he had no familiarity with the neoconservative movement. While being a subscriber to COMMENTARY isn’t a requirement for the presidency, that someone running for that office has not even heard the term suggests Cain is not only bereft of foreign policy experience, he apparently has never even read much about it.
Today’s front-page feature in the New York Times on Mitt Romney’s career as a leader in the Mormon Church has the feel of an article whose purpose was basically unfulfilled. Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s agenda seems to have been to dig up as much dirt as she could about the Republican’s activities. But unfortunately for the Times, she didn’t find much that would embarrass the candidate.
As much as Romney has been a familiar national political figure in the last several years, it may be many of us didn’t know that for a considerable period of time he was actually the lay head of the Mormon faith in the Boston area. But after reading the article, the reaction is, if this is the worst they can say about him, he’s not likely to provide Democratic opposition researchers with much fodder.
The off-year elections in the year before a presidential election often are not very interesting. In the year following a presidential election, there are races for governor of New Jersey and Virginia and the mayoralty of New York, a city with a larger population than 39 states. These can give an indication of how the political winds are blowing, as they certainly did in 2009.
This year, there are governorship races in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kentucky. The Republican candidate in Mississippi seems very likely to win, taking over from the term-limited Republican Haley Barbour, and the incumbents (Republican in Louisiana and Democrat in Kentucky) seem equally likely to keep their jobs. Barring a late development, they should be ho-hum elections. But there is one election that people should keep their eye on, the referendum in Ohio to repeal a state law enacted last spring limiting collective bargaining for public employees.
The Obama administration’s announcement that it will demand the International Atomic Energy Agency reveal classified information proving Iran is working on nuclear military weapons technology is meant to ramp up the pressure on Tehran in the wake of their failed assassination plot in the United States. But while such an action would be helpful in the struggle to restrain Iranian nuclear ambitions, it’s hard to argue such a belated measure would do much to either scare the ayatollahs or motivate America’s allies to take action to isolate them. Having spent his first three years in office doing everything to convince the Iranians that Obama’s America was a paper tiger, it would be hard to blame them for thinking they don’t have much to worry about.
The problem is not that the ideas being mooted by senior administration officials speaking off the record to newspapers like the New York Times about what they’d like to do are ill-conceived. The trouble is, they are nearly three years late.
I have no idea whether President Obama is right to send 100 U.S. troops to help Uganda and other African states to battle the homicidal Lord’s Resistance Army and its maniacal leader, Joseph Kony.
There is little doubt the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been responsible for more atrocities than anyone can count, is the embodiment of evil. Whether it should be America’s role to stop this particular manifestation of evil is another question. Too often in the past–e.g., in Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1993–good deeds went awry when our forces encountered stronger-than-expected resistance, and it turned out we had enough will to send troops but not enough to suffer any casualties.
I certainly agree with Pete the face of modern-day liberalism is an ugly one indeed, with snarling leaders and snarling followers contemptuous of all opinions but their own. But this is not a new development and antedates Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency.
Remember when the New York Times announced in early 2008 that Bill Kristol would write a weekly column? The liberal blogosphere went
ballistic, and the column lasted only a year, when the Times announced his departure from the op-ed page with nothing more than the one-line announcement at the end of his column, “This is William Kristol’s last column.” Harry Stein, the author of the article just referred to, wrote a book more than a decade ago about the fact that expressing any disagreement with liberal orthodoxy, however mild or measured, at New York dinner parties is likely to get you called a fascist.
While many in Israel and elsewhere have spent the last few days bashing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his painful but unavoidable decision to pay an egregious price to ransom Gilad Shalit, one of the country’s sacred cows has, at least to this point, avoided much criticism. But an article in today’s Haaretz offers at least a partial answer to a question many friends of Israel have been wondering about in the days since the announcement of the deal with Hamas to free Gilad Shalit: Why was the Israel Defense Forces unable to rescue him at any point during his more than five years of captivity?
According to Ronen Cohen, a recently retired colonel in Israel’s military intelligence, “The IDF never took responsibility for the soldier and did not even set up a team to deal with bringing him back. They simply passed it on to the Shin Bet [security service].”