At Fox News, COMMENTARY contributor George Russell has a fantastic report on a confidential gathering of UN officials that took place last October. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others met in a Long Island mansion and brainstormed on how “to consolidate a radical new global green economy, promote a spectrum of sweeping new social policies and build an even more important role for UN institutions ‘to manage the process of globalization better.’”
The discussion centered on plans for June’s Rio + 20 Summit on Sustainable Development, and was something like Occupy Wall Street rally meets Avatar. Participants both noted that “inequity” is the “single greatest challenge and threat” to the world and “the UN in Rio should be the voice of the planet and its people.” They’ll have to fight Barack Obama for that gig, no?
Just when some veteran Middle East peace processers and critics of Israel were making some progress trying to persuade the world Hamas was changing its stripes, the terrorist organization torpedoed talk about its new moderation with a gesture of friendship with Iran.
Ismail Haniya, the prime minister of Hamas’s Gaza terror state, arrived in Tehran on Friday for a visit that should disillusion those who assumed there had been a break between the two. The warm welcome given Haniya by the Islamist regime is an indication that the alliance between Iran and one of its terrorist auxiliaries is still very much in place. It also ought to be a reminder that Hamas participation in the Palestinian Authority’s government in the wake of its unity pact with Fatah will provide Iran with an influential ally that will render the prospects for peace with Israel moot.
Let’s take a look at the president’s semantics of late. In no accidental turn of phrase, he called his change regarding contraception “an accommodation” for those who have moral objections. Why didn’t he call it “a compromise,” which is what it supposedly is?
I suspect the reason has to do with the president’s great-pyramid-of-Giza-sized ego.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has been visiting Washington, supposedly to talk about Syria. He has, however, upheld his promise last autumn to use every international gathering to bash Israel. As the Turkish press reported at the time:
“[Israel] despises and plays with the people’s honor in this region,” Davutoğlu said, adding that Turkey would continue to highlight Israel’s unlawful acts in all international platforms.
Mitt Romney’s narrow wins in the non-binding Maine caucus and the CPAC straw poll changed the topic of conversation among Republicans — at least for a day — about Rick Santorum’s surge into contention in the GOP presidential race. But a Public Policy Polling survey released the same day ought to provide as much encouragement to Santorum’s backers as Romney’s fans took from Maine and CPAC. Feeding off his wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri earlier in the week, the PPP poll showed Santorum taking an astounding 38-23 percentage point lead over Romney, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Ron Paul trailing with 13 percent.
National tracking polls have been volatile throughout the race, giving each of the various flavors of the month like Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich their moments in the lead. So Santorum’s spike in popularity shouldn’t be taken as proof the Republican race has been fundamentally altered by recent events. Nevertheless, the poll does illustrate the willingness of Republicans to embrace an alterative to Romney even at this stage of the race. It also demonstrates that Santorum’s popularity and positive image — at least among GOP voters — could prove troublesome to the frontrunner.
Many diplomats—up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—have cited Turkey’s cooperation on Syria as evidence of the strong Turkish-American partnership. What the Turkish government often says—and what Turkish officials do, however, are often very different things.
Word has come from Turkey that a Turkish intelligence agent was instrumental in returning to Syria—by force—Hussein Harmush, a Syrian colonel who fled to Turkey after refusing to fire on Syrian civilians and became the first high-level Syrian officer to declare publicly his opposition to the Assad regime. The Turkish agent removed Harmush from the refugee camp and handed him over to Syrian officials. Harmush was subsequently executed by the Syrian regime.
After a week in which he lost contests in three states and had taken a severe beating about his ability to close the deal with Republicans, Mitt Romney stopped the bleeding on Saturday with victories in the non-binding Maine caucus and the CPAC straw poll. Romney has tremendous advantages over his rivals and must still be considered the overwhelming favorite for the GOP presidential nomination. If his shocking losses to Rick Santorum in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri demolished the idea that he would easily cruise through the next weeks and months, then Maine and CPAC were reminders the former Massachusetts governor still has the money and the organization to bulldoze his way through some relatively insignificant contests.
But no one should be deceived by Romney’s ability to squeak out wins in a non-binding caucus (where he was nearly beaten by libertarian outlier Ron Paul) that attracted few Republican voters and a straw poll that was more a measure of the competence of the candidate’s organization. The frontrunner is still confronted with some serious problems that complicate his effort to nail down the nomination and to win the general election. The Republican base is still not sold on him, and his struggles to win his party and occasional gaffes are also eroding the notion that he is the most electable Republican.