How determined is Turkey to repudiate its decades-long alliance with Israel? Today’s decision by the Turks to reportedly refuse assistance from Israel is a stunning indication of how far the Islamist government in Ankara is willing to go to make a point.
More than 1,000 persons are feared dead in the aftermath of a quake that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. With workers battling to save those trapped in collapsed buildings in towns and cities near the Iranian border, it’s more than likely that Israel’s experienced rescue teams — which participated in previous earthquake relief efforts in Turkey — would be of value to the effort. But according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told the Israelis they are not wanted. Erdoğan would apparently prefer to see his compatriots die rather than to allow Jews to help them.
After President Obama announced that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year, his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, tried to assure the world that the U.S. was not abandoning Iraq:
“As we open this new chapter in a relationship with a sovereign Iraq, to the Iraqis we say: America is with you as you take your next steps in your journey to secure your democracy,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. “And to the countries in the region, especially Iraq’s neighbors, we want to emphasize that America will stand with our allies and friends, including Iraq, in defense of our security and interests.”
Her words ring hollow because no amount of diplomatic activity can replace the stabilizing function that U.S. troops could perform.
After a year in which virtually everybody in Washington agreed that cutting spending was vital, you might have thought the Congress would have restrained its own involvement in tangential issues that having nothing to do with the business of government. If so, you thought wrong. As this item in a New York Times NFL roundup column from earlier this week notes, the House Committee on Government Oversight’s intervention in the question of testing for the use of human growth hormone illustrates that a bipartisan dedication to pointless and shameless grandstanding is undiminished.
As The Hill reported last month, chair Rep. Darrel Issa and the ranking minority member, Rep. Elijah Cummings had demanded that leaders of the league and the players union appear to explain why they had not agreed to a procedure for drug testing. Since the two parties are still locked in a stalemate over that issue, the Republican chair and his Democrat counterpart are determined to stick their noses in the dispute. But neither has put forward an explanation as to why NFL drug testing is a federal issue and worthy of the time and expense that a Congressional hearing on the matter would entail.
This past Friday liberal Joe Nocera yesterday wrote something that both of the two supposedly conservative columnists who write for the New York Times op-ed page have often failed to do: pin the blame for the decline in public discourse in this country squarely where it belongs: on the supposedly high-minded liberals who like to pretend that it is only conservatives who say or do nasty things. The reason for the piece is that today is the 24th anniversary of the Senate’s rejection of the nomination of Judge Robert Bork for the U.S. Supreme Court. That battle was, as Nocera rightly notes, “the beginning of the end of civil discourse in politics.” It was a turning point in history and “the line from Bork to today’s ugly politics is a straight one.”
The history of the effort to demonize Bork is not a pretty one for Democrats, especially since, as Nocera says, Democrats take it as an article of faith that “our poisoned politics” is purely a function of Republican misbehavior. The character assassination of Bork was a cynical effort by leading Democrats to defame a highly respected jurist whose views were by no means extreme. Liberals knew they couldn’t defeat his nomination via a reasoned debate so they resorted to slander.
It is no secret that Hamas was strengthened by the conclusion of its ransom deal with Israel in which over one thousand Palestinian terrorists were freed in exchange for the safe return of Gilad Shalit. But its Fatah rivals are not taking this triumph lying down. In the wake of the announcement that Hamas will be paying each of the released killers, almost all of whom are either directly or indirectly responsible for the murders of Jews, a bonus of $2,000, the Palestinian Authority has also decreedthat it will be paying every one of the murderers a separate honorarium though the amount was not specified. That PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, the man that is supposed to be Israel’s peace partner, will pay this cash reward for murder, is an irony that is lost on an Obama administration that continues to urge the Jewish state to make concessions to the PA.
This is of more than passing interest to American readers since hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds are transferred to the Palestinian Authority every year. That makes Uncle Sam is paying a subsidy to mass murderers. That’s a not insignificant point to remember when Congress decides whether or not to continue the flow of aid to the PA.
Speaking in Tajikistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq, now that the United States is withdrawing. “To countries in the region, especially Iraq’s neighbors, we want to emphasize that America will stand with our allies and friends, including Iraq, in defense of our common security and interests,” she said, adding, “We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region, which is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region, which holds such promise and should be free from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy.”
Will the Iranians take Clinton’s warning seriously? Why wouldn’t they? After all, less than two weeks after the Obama administration accused Tehran of plotting a terrorist attack in Washington, DC, leading an angry Obama to promise “accountability,” the president turns around and hands Iraq to Iran on a silver platter. Not even at his worst did Jimmy Carter commit such strategic malpractice. What must Ayatollah Khamenei be thinking? Defy Obama to get Afghanistan too?