Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 12, 2013

Bill Clinton Sticks a Knife in ObamaCare

The five-year-long dance between the Clintons and President Obama has always been an interesting show, but never more so than now as the runner-up in the 2008 Democratic presidential contest starts to maneuver in preparation for 2016. Hillary Clinton spent her four years as secretary of state playing the good soldier for the president, doing little of value but also (and unlike her spectacularly inept successor John Kerry) causing him little trouble. She exited the cabinet with a presidential love fest that had to annoy Vice President Joe Biden, her only likely rival for 2016. But now that she is safely out of the Washington maelstrom and embarked on a path that she hopes will see her return to the White House as president rather than first lady, her relationship with Obama has undergone a not-so-subtle change. That has allowed some of the old antagonism between her and, in particular, her husband and the man who beat her in 2008 to resurface.

That antagonism was on display today as Bill Clinton joined the growing chorus of critics of the ObamaCare rollout in an interview published in a web magazine. Speaking much as if he was one of the angry red-state Democrats who think the president’s lies about ObamaCare can sink their hopes of reelection next year, the 42nd president stuck a knife into the 44thpresident by saying the law should be changed to accommodate the demands of those who are losing their coverage despite the president’s promises to the contrary:

“I personally believe even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

In doing so, the former unofficial “explainer in chief” for Obama has helped undermine the notion that the president’s signature health-care legislation can be kept intact. But he has also begun the process by which Hillary will begin to disassociate herself from an administration that is beginning to take on the odor of lame-duck failure.

Read More

The five-year-long dance between the Clintons and President Obama has always been an interesting show, but never more so than now as the runner-up in the 2008 Democratic presidential contest starts to maneuver in preparation for 2016. Hillary Clinton spent her four years as secretary of state playing the good soldier for the president, doing little of value but also (and unlike her spectacularly inept successor John Kerry) causing him little trouble. She exited the cabinet with a presidential love fest that had to annoy Vice President Joe Biden, her only likely rival for 2016. But now that she is safely out of the Washington maelstrom and embarked on a path that she hopes will see her return to the White House as president rather than first lady, her relationship with Obama has undergone a not-so-subtle change. That has allowed some of the old antagonism between her and, in particular, her husband and the man who beat her in 2008 to resurface.

That antagonism was on display today as Bill Clinton joined the growing chorus of critics of the ObamaCare rollout in an interview published in a web magazine. Speaking much as if he was one of the angry red-state Democrats who think the president’s lies about ObamaCare can sink their hopes of reelection next year, the 42nd president stuck a knife into the 44thpresident by saying the law should be changed to accommodate the demands of those who are losing their coverage despite the president’s promises to the contrary:

“I personally believe even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

In doing so, the former unofficial “explainer in chief” for Obama has helped undermine the notion that the president’s signature health-care legislation can be kept intact. But he has also begun the process by which Hillary will begin to disassociate herself from an administration that is beginning to take on the odor of lame-duck failure.

White House spokesmen Jay Carney tried to represent Clinton’s defection as somehow consistent with the president’s comments during his cribbed “apology” for the false information about the bill that he repeated ad nauseum during the last three years (“If you like your health care plan…”) during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd last week. The president said his team would study how to make it up to the millions who are losing their coverage and being hit with huge increases in their premiums. But he knows very well that to do that would essential destroy the system on which ObamaCare is based. The point is there is no way for responsible citizens who pay for their insurance not to be the losers in this scheme since without bilking them (as well as the recruitment of vast numbers of young, healthy people who will pay for more insurance than most will want or need) it will be impossible to carry off the vast redistribution of wealth that is at the core of ObamaCare.

That’s why the willingness of Democrats to embrace the bill proposed by Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (one of those endangered red-state Democrats) to legislate a fix that would allow Americans to keep their existing coverage is so dangerous for ObamaCare. It’s not clear such a fix is even possible, but the willingness of Democrats like California’s Dianne Feinstein to jump at that wagon shows that the ground is slipping away from underneath the president’s feet. While the White House has said their concern is eliminating substandard insurance policies, this is another barefaced lie as the whole point here is roping in more people to pay for those who are currently uninsured, not improving their coverage.

This may be a turning point in the history of ObamaCare as the dysfunctional website now appears to be the least of the president’s problems. But it is also a sign that his would-be successor now believes that she must detach herself from what appears to be a disastrous second term. If we needed an official notification that the future of the Democratic Party wants no part of the problems of the present, Hillary’s husband just delivered it.

Read Less

Looking at the Pew Study Through the Wrong End of the Telescope

Reactions to the Pew Study on American Jewish life that I discussed in the cover story of COMMENTARY’s November issue are still pouring in. They run the gamut from sensible dives into the numbers, such as the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis’s pessimistic analysis of the future of the Conservative movement in the Jewish Review of Books and former Reform movement head Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s thoughtful criticism of the rise of secularism in Haaretz, to the extremely foolish, such as that of columnist J.J. Goldberg’s attempt to claim that the acclaimed study was fundamentally incorrect in its analysis and conclusions. Goldberg’s piece was subsequently given a thorough fisking by two of the study’s authors. But given the investment that many Jews have in the idea that the rise of intermarriage is an opportunity rather than a calamity, there wasn’t much doubt we would see more such efforts to turn the lemons delivered by Pew into lemonade for the organized Jewish world. And that’s exactly what we have now received from Tablet magazine in the form of a piece by Middlebury College’s Theodore Sasson claiming that the lesson we should derive from the numbers showing the vast increase in the number of Jews intermarrying is that most of them are becoming Jews.

Sasson asserts that if we add up the number of millennials who are children of intermarriage who are Jewish by religion or say they have no religion but identify as Jewish or as partly Jewish, it adds up to 59 percent. Since anything over 50 percent would mean a net population gain for the Jewish people, he says that accounts for the fact that total number of Jews by any definition hasn’t gone down in the last 20 years. That leads him to conclude that not only is pessimism about the future unwarranted but that this should motivate Jewish groups to concentrate more of their efforts on outreach toward this population. But this is not only a misinterpretation of these numbers; it is a fundamental misreading of what this means for the future.

Read More

Reactions to the Pew Study on American Jewish life that I discussed in the cover story of COMMENTARY’s November issue are still pouring in. They run the gamut from sensible dives into the numbers, such as the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis’s pessimistic analysis of the future of the Conservative movement in the Jewish Review of Books and former Reform movement head Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s thoughtful criticism of the rise of secularism in Haaretz, to the extremely foolish, such as that of columnist J.J. Goldberg’s attempt to claim that the acclaimed study was fundamentally incorrect in its analysis and conclusions. Goldberg’s piece was subsequently given a thorough fisking by two of the study’s authors. But given the investment that many Jews have in the idea that the rise of intermarriage is an opportunity rather than a calamity, there wasn’t much doubt we would see more such efforts to turn the lemons delivered by Pew into lemonade for the organized Jewish world. And that’s exactly what we have now received from Tablet magazine in the form of a piece by Middlebury College’s Theodore Sasson claiming that the lesson we should derive from the numbers showing the vast increase in the number of Jews intermarrying is that most of them are becoming Jews.

Sasson asserts that if we add up the number of millennials who are children of intermarriage who are Jewish by religion or say they have no religion but identify as Jewish or as partly Jewish, it adds up to 59 percent. Since anything over 50 percent would mean a net population gain for the Jewish people, he says that accounts for the fact that total number of Jews by any definition hasn’t gone down in the last 20 years. That leads him to conclude that not only is pessimism about the future unwarranted but that this should motivate Jewish groups to concentrate more of their efforts on outreach toward this population. But this is not only a misinterpretation of these numbers; it is a fundamental misreading of what this means for the future.

Let’s first take apart that 59 percent number. Including people who are raised in more than one religion or who identify as “partly Jewish” in the number of total Jews is somewhat suspect. That means the confidence that intermarriage is increasing the Jewish population is a myth. Even more important, by taking these numbers in isolation without looking at them alongside the other data in the study about the behavior of the intermarried and their children, it’s easy to see that this optimistic reading misses the real story in the study. Since the overwhelming majority of intermarried Jews are not raising their children as Jews or giving them any sort of Jewish education, that means most will not have any meaningful Jewish identity in terms of affiliation or behavior no matter what they call themselves at the moment. Moreover, since even Sasson agrees “most of the younger Jews in this category will probably marry non-Jews,” there is simply no way to see this as anything but a trend that will lead to more assimilation, not greater affiliation. Thus to claim the growth in this group is a positive trend is to look at the numbers through the wrong end of the telescope.

The problem with the rise in intermarriage for the Jewish community is primarily because it is the product of trends that reflect that lack of religious faith or identification with the Jewish people by those who intermarry. The Pew authors could not determine whether being intermarried made Jews less religious or whether being less religious made Jews more likely to intermarry, but the connection is not in doubt.

Going beyond the raw population numbers, Pew’s data informs us that the growth in intermarriage must be viewed in the context of a web of attitudes about Jewish life that are indicative of the decline of faith and affiliation. That’s why expecting those who come from backgrounds where both of these factors are not considered important to latch onto Judaism or Jewish affiliation as adults is not justified by any reasonable reading of the numbers.

It is true that more children of intermarriage are willing to admit to ties to the Jewish community in previous generations leading to the increase of Jews of no religion. But that is a function of the general decline in anti-Semitism that has helped break down barriers between Jews and non-Jews that has led to more intermarriage. But, as Pew’s numbers show, the idea that this is a meaningful measure of affiliation or future behavior is more than a stretch.

The most lamentable part of this argument is the conclusion he draws from it about the large number of younger Jews with some ties to the community but no religious faith or belief in the value of taking part in Jewish life. Sasson claims the sheer numbers of the people in this group justifies a major investment on the part of the organized Jewish world in programming and outreach toward them. But if there is anything we have learned in the past 20 years it is that such efforts have done nothing to stop intermarriage or increase affiliation among groups that have already demonstrated a lack of interest in faith or any other aspect of Jewish life. Indeed, the Pew numbers demonstrate exactly this point as intermarriage goes up and the numbers of the intermarried who have embraced Jewish education for their kids has remained low.

As Jack Wertheimer persuasively argued in Mosaic magazine, the outreach industry is predicated on the idea that the Jewish community can do nothing about intermarriage and should give up encouraging endogamy. While the Jewish world should welcome anyone who wants to join, for the past generation the community has squandered scarce resources chasing unaffiliated Jews who don’t care about Jewish life on the margins while doing little if anything to make it easier for people who are still part of the community to stay there. While the community’s doors must stay open, its focus must be on helping those still inside the tent, not chasing a fool’s errand outside of it.

Read Less

Mythologizing Elizabeth Warren

Noam Scheiber’s story on Elizabeth Warren’s prospects for the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries has touched off this week’s non-Chris Christie related 2016 speculation. Politico followed, with an interesting story on how Warren could push Hillary Clinton to the left even if she couldn’t defeat Clinton for the nomination. Further, if a Tea Party populist like Rand Paul were running a serious campaign on the Republican side, the election would turn up the heat on Wall Street.

But it’s doubtful Wall Streeters are worried yet; Warren is unlikely to run, and any rhetorical shifts Clinton made during the campaign would of course be meaningless, and everyone would know it. The truth is, if you want to understand why the Democratic Party is far more likely to support Clinton (if she runs, of course) than someone like Warren, there are two recent stories that are better indicators of where the “soul” of the party, as Scheiber terms it, are. First, from the L.A. Times:

Read More

Noam Scheiber’s story on Elizabeth Warren’s prospects for the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries has touched off this week’s non-Chris Christie related 2016 speculation. Politico followed, with an interesting story on how Warren could push Hillary Clinton to the left even if she couldn’t defeat Clinton for the nomination. Further, if a Tea Party populist like Rand Paul were running a serious campaign on the Republican side, the election would turn up the heat on Wall Street.

But it’s doubtful Wall Streeters are worried yet; Warren is unlikely to run, and any rhetorical shifts Clinton made during the campaign would of course be meaningless, and everyone would know it. The truth is, if you want to understand why the Democratic Party is far more likely to support Clinton (if she runs, of course) than someone like Warren, there are two recent stories that are better indicators of where the “soul” of the party, as Scheiber terms it, are. First, from the L.A. Times:

Under the chandeliers at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, guests sipped white wine and sampled Vietnamese spring rolls as Hollywood’s power players gathered for yet another fete celebrating Hillary Rodham Clinton, this time for her work with women and girls in Third World countries.

President Clinton, a surprise guest, had popped into Friday night’s VIP reception upstairs to greet industry heavyweights including Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone and Rob Friedman, co-chairman of Lionsgate’s motion picture group. Hillary Clinton was greeted at the gala with a standing ovation and seated elbow to elbow with Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose fundraising network could help lay the groundwork for her presidential campaign.

I’ll leave aside any jokes about the fact that Hillary’s husband was a “surprise guest” at Hillary’s party, according to the Times. The “soul” of Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party can be found wherever the Hollywood elite have the champagne flowing and the checkbooks feeling heavy.

The other story demonstrating why it’s difficult for someone like Warren in the current Democratic Party is from Politico, and it’s a rather amazingly honest depiction of modern liberalism’s “soul”:

A look at the politics also helps explain why the momentum has stalled on New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal to remove the chain of command from the prosecution of sexual assault cases, considered the most controversial proposal to curb the problem. Women’s and victim advocacy groups want to use the vote as a litmus test that would tie any senator who opposes it to Chambliss’s remark and create a damaging political narrative in the same vein as Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment in the 2012 Missouri Senate race.

But so far, that strategy has produced few results.

Crafting legislation that is ostensibly to help victims of sexual violence but is designed to get politicians talking about rape just so they can be drummed out of office is a perfect example of the utter cynicism that characterizes today’s Democratic Party. Then there’s this:

Some Democrats have even portrayed the vote as one for or against rape victims.

“Especially with some of the Republicans seeing what happened to Todd Akin, people will be running scared on this,” said one Senate Democratic aide who works on defense issues.

This is the kind of campaign Democrats want to run. They want to collect money from special interests to fund advertising campaigns portraying their opponents as “pro-rape.” For that, they have turned to the Clintons. Theirs is the politics of grievance and the ideology of power.

But the larger mistake that hopeful liberals make is assuming that Warren would run an issues-based, reformist campaign. But that’s not her style either. Indeed, that was the tragedy of her Senate campaign, as I wrote in May 2012. Warren is whip-smart with a strong handle on the particulars of the issues and, as a former Harvard Law professor, a gift for crafting a crisp argument. But she doesn’t use any of this in political campaigns.

When she ran for the Senate against Scott Brown, it was revealed she claimed dubious minority status to get ahead in her career–egregious enough for a rich white woman already. But then when called on it she claimed it was sexist to hold her accountable. Why rely on an argument when you can tar your opponent as a sexist? Why engage in a debate when you can disqualify your opponent? That’s the liberal way.

So she pressed the “war on women” narrative, threw in some quite garbled arguments about “Big Oil,” pronounced herself a victim, and called it a day. So when Scheiber says the Democratic Party’s “Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren,” as the headline of his article announces, he’s right. But it’s not because the left’s soul is the champion of the downtrodden. It’s too busy collecting checks from the One Percent and trying to get the opposition to mutter the word “rape” on camera.

Read Less

Israel Has No Alternative to U.S. Alliance

China and Israel may not have much in common, but that hasn’t stopped the Jewish state from working hard to better ties with the world’s most populous nation. The growing connections between the two countries are largely economic, but the fact that two highly placed figures from Israel’s political and military realms spoke recently at China’s military academy was enough to gain the notice of the New York Times’s Sinosphere blog. The piece, which spoke of the visit to Beijing by Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations and a confidant of Prime Minister Netanyahu and retired general Uzi Dayan, spoke of how the Jewish state is working assiduously to deepen its relationship with China. Given Israel’s relative diplomatic isolation, there’s nothing terribly surprising about it reaching out in this direction. But put into the context of the last two weeks, any discussion of Israel’s efforts to make friends with a potential rival of the United States must be seen as part of an effort to lessen its dependence on its sole superpower ally.

Indeed, the Times didn’t shy away from such a discussion in the piece as it weighed, not unfairly, the advantages of better relations with China for Israel as well as the complications of trying to work closely with a nation that is also doing business with Iran. At a time when the United States seems to have distanced itself again from Israel on both the talks with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear threat, the frustration level in Jerusalem with the Obama administration is very high. This has led not only to ruminations about whether the U.S.-Israel alliance is doomed, as was the conceit of a recent feature in Tablet magazine, but to suggestions from some Israeli pundits, like the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick, that maybe “it is time to reassess Israel’s strategic assumptions and for the country to begin the process of exploring “new opportunities” that will enable it to survive without U.S. help if not to completely replace the old alliance.

But while the notion of playing China or Russia off of the United States may seem tempting to Israelis who are sick of being played for chumps by the Obama administration, any thoughts about “alternatives” to the U.S. alliance are fantasies, not serious policy options. It’s not just that neither of those countries should be considered reliable friends of Israel. It’s that any effort to pretend that there is another option outside of the U.S. alliance is as much of a danger to the future of this relationship as the ill-considered actions of President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry.

Read More

China and Israel may not have much in common, but that hasn’t stopped the Jewish state from working hard to better ties with the world’s most populous nation. The growing connections between the two countries are largely economic, but the fact that two highly placed figures from Israel’s political and military realms spoke recently at China’s military academy was enough to gain the notice of the New York Times’s Sinosphere blog. The piece, which spoke of the visit to Beijing by Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations and a confidant of Prime Minister Netanyahu and retired general Uzi Dayan, spoke of how the Jewish state is working assiduously to deepen its relationship with China. Given Israel’s relative diplomatic isolation, there’s nothing terribly surprising about it reaching out in this direction. But put into the context of the last two weeks, any discussion of Israel’s efforts to make friends with a potential rival of the United States must be seen as part of an effort to lessen its dependence on its sole superpower ally.

Indeed, the Times didn’t shy away from such a discussion in the piece as it weighed, not unfairly, the advantages of better relations with China for Israel as well as the complications of trying to work closely with a nation that is also doing business with Iran. At a time when the United States seems to have distanced itself again from Israel on both the talks with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear threat, the frustration level in Jerusalem with the Obama administration is very high. This has led not only to ruminations about whether the U.S.-Israel alliance is doomed, as was the conceit of a recent feature in Tablet magazine, but to suggestions from some Israeli pundits, like the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick, that maybe “it is time to reassess Israel’s strategic assumptions and for the country to begin the process of exploring “new opportunities” that will enable it to survive without U.S. help if not to completely replace the old alliance.

But while the notion of playing China or Russia off of the United States may seem tempting to Israelis who are sick of being played for chumps by the Obama administration, any thoughts about “alternatives” to the U.S. alliance are fantasies, not serious policy options. It’s not just that neither of those countries should be considered reliable friends of Israel. It’s that any effort to pretend that there is another option outside of the U.S. alliance is as much of a danger to the future of this relationship as the ill-considered actions of President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry.

As for the fissures in the existing alliance, they are serious but should not be mistaken for a fundamental split. Israelis are right to be infuriated about Kerry’s tantrum last week because of his anger about the failure of the peace negotiations he foolishly initiated as well as the U.S. attempt to rush to complete an unsatisfactory nuclear agreement with Iran. Like the spats with Israel that President Obama fomented during the course of his first term, these disputes illustrate the distorted mindset of this administration as well as its willingness to create daylight between the positions of the two allies. But, as both Obama and Kerry understand, there are clear limits as to how far they can go in taking shots at Israel.

Even a reelected Obama who seemingly has little to fear from disgruntled supporters of Israel realizes that picking fights with the Jewish state is a no-win proposition for him. As he showed during the last two years with his election-year charm offensive and the rhetorical lengths to which he went during his trip to Israel last spring, the president is aware of the fact that the roots of the alliance are deep and it can’t be uprooted easily.

The long-term problems that the Tablet piece noted are not to be dismissed. There’s no question that the trends explored by the Pew Report about the decline of the Jewish community and the impact of an increasingly assimilated American Jewry will mean a smaller base of pro-Israel Jews. But that and the growth of anti-Israel opinion, while troubling, should not be mistaken for a fundamental threat to the future of ties between the two countries. Support for Zionism is baked into the political DNA of America and won’t be erased by either Jewish demographics or left-wing activism. The point about the Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” myth is that the wall-to-wall bipartisan coalition in support of Israel in Congress and throughout the American political system is wide and so deep as to encompass the vast majority of Americans. As Israeli leaders should have realized a long time ago, the core of that support is not Jewish activism or money but the deeply-held sentiments of American Christians.

Leaders like Obama, who are not in love with Israel, can shake it up. But even he is incapable of altering its foundations, as the growth of U.S.-Israel security cooperation on his watch has proved. It’s hard right now to see past the seeming betrayal on Iran, but pessimists should remember that the intransigent Islamist regime—like the Palestinians—may ultimately push the administration back into Israel’s arms.

But even if one were inclined to despair about the future of U.S. support, neither China nor Russia provides anything like an alternative. Both can be useful at times to Israel and Jerusalem is right to explore how far it might go in those directions, especially when it comes to economic ties at a time when Europe seems to be abandoning the Jewish state. Yet it must be understood not only are these countries not likely to be good or reliable friends of Israel, but flirting too much with them also carries with it the possibility of worsening the far more essential ties with the United States.

There is still only one superpower in the world and neither China nor Russia looks to be catching up with the U.S. in the near future. But if the history of the rest of this century will be read through the prism of China’s drive to attain the status of a global power and Russia’s efforts to reconstitute the old Tsarist and Soviet empires, then there is no question that a small democracy like Israel must place itself firmly on the side of the U.S. in these rivalries. The ties between the U.S. and Israel are based on shared values, not realpolitik. Forgetting that would be an unforgivable error on the part of any Israeli leader and that is a mistake that a savvy operator like Prime Minister Netanyahu is not likely to make.

That’s not just because both are tyrannies that cannot be trusted to deal fairly with Israel, let alone try to protect it against its foes. But also because Israel’s long-term safety must be seen as linked to the ability of the United States to maintain its status as the leader of the free world. Even at times of great tension with Washington, Israelis must never forget that it is not just that they have no viable alternatives to the U.S. but that American power remains the best hope of freedom for all nations.

Those advocating alternatives to the U.S. for Israel are engaging in magical thinking that will do more harm than good. The fix for the gaps that have been created by the administration’s ill-advised moves on the peace process and Iran is to be found in efforts to restrain the president’s folly in the U.S., not searches for new allies to take America’s place.

Read Less

China’s Missed Opportunity

The devastation in the Philippines has prompted various nations to provide aid. Reuters has a rundown on what a number of countries are doing.

The U.S. contribution is the most substantial and, in the case of the naval aircraft and ships, the most irreplaceable: “The UNITED STATES is providing $20 million in immediate humanitarian assistance and has sent a team of about 90 Marines and sailors, part of a first wave of promised U.S. military assistance. An aircraft carrier and four other Navy ships set sail for the Philippines from Hong Kong on Tuesday.”

Read More

The devastation in the Philippines has prompted various nations to provide aid. Reuters has a rundown on what a number of countries are doing.

The U.S. contribution is the most substantial and, in the case of the naval aircraft and ships, the most irreplaceable: “The UNITED STATES is providing $20 million in immediate humanitarian assistance and has sent a team of about 90 Marines and sailors, part of a first wave of promised U.S. military assistance. An aircraft carrier and four other Navy ships set sail for the Philippines from Hong Kong on Tuesday.”

But others are stepping forward as well. Australia is contributing a $9.3 million package of aid, Britain $16 million, Japan $10 million, UAE $10 million. Even the Vatican is pledging $4 million worth of help.

And what is the second-largest economy in the world doing? “The CHINESE government is providing $100,000 and the Chinese Red Cross a further $100,000.”

That is a stunningly small sum from such a large and increasingly powerful country. It is also a missed opportunity for China to get back into the good graces of Filipinos after tensions flared during a confrontation between the Chinese and Filipino navy over Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

China may be getting richer and more powerful but this is an indication that its exercise of “soft power” lags far behind not only the U.S. but also lesser powers such as Britain and Australia.

Read Less

Peter Wehner: COMMENTARY’s Essays Are Monuments to Excellence

COMMENTARY is an incandescent magazine, the best of its kind in the world. For more than a half-century it has published the finest minds writing on the most important issues facing America, Israel, and the world. COMMENTARY knows what to stand for and what to stand against–and it does so with piercing intelligence, rigorous and persuasive arguments, integrity and courage. One cannot help but be struck by the breadth and quality of the articles, which are always relevant, never trendy, monuments to excellence. There are very few genuinely indispensable magazines; COMMENTARY is one of them. It has earned your trust; it deserves your support.

Help support COMMENTARY. Please click here to donate.

COMMENTARY is an incandescent magazine, the best of its kind in the world. For more than a half-century it has published the finest minds writing on the most important issues facing America, Israel, and the world. COMMENTARY knows what to stand for and what to stand against–and it does so with piercing intelligence, rigorous and persuasive arguments, integrity and courage. One cannot help but be struck by the breadth and quality of the articles, which are always relevant, never trendy, monuments to excellence. There are very few genuinely indispensable magazines; COMMENTARY is one of them. It has earned your trust; it deserves your support.

Help support COMMENTARY. Please click here to donate.

Read Less

Why Congress Must Act Now on Iran

The administration is in full damage-control mode today as the failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to make a nuclear deal with Iran has exposed the true nature of its diplomatic agenda. While both the president and Kerry have consistently claimed that their only goal was preventing Iran from going nuclear, the botched effort to rush to a deal last week was based on a decision to accept in principle the Islamist regime’s longstanding claim that it had a “right” to enrich uranium. While many in the Senate think the administration is making a terrible mistake, the White House and its defenders are claiming there is no real choice. As the New York Times asks in its editorial defending a faltering Kerry, “what is the alternative?”

But the administration and the Times are asking the wrong question.

By getting trapped in a diplomatic tangle that can only be resolved by a deal that will leave Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure, its uranium enrichment process, and its plutonium option in place, Kerry is accepting Iran’s point of view about the dispute. In essence, he is telling Congress, Israel, and the Saudis that there is no way the Iranians will ever give up their reactors, centrifuges or their stockpile of enriched uranium so all we can do is get them to accept limits that, even if they will be easily evaded, will at least avoid the threat of further confrontation or war. If the question they are really posing to critics is not whether this course of action is the best way to avoid a nuclear Iran but whether it is the best way to avoid a messy and unpredictable conflict, Kerry is right.

But if we change the question from how best to come to some agreement with the ayatollahs to how to stop them from getting a bomb, the answer is very different. And that is why Congress must use the pause in the talks to step up and demand that the president and Kerry stick to what has always been America’s goal: preventing a nuclear Iran. And the only way to do that is to tighten sanctions and to insist that any deal be predicated on eliminating any chance that the Islamist regime will not do as the North Koreans have already done and simply negotiate and delay their way to a bomb.

Read More

The administration is in full damage-control mode today as the failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to make a nuclear deal with Iran has exposed the true nature of its diplomatic agenda. While both the president and Kerry have consistently claimed that their only goal was preventing Iran from going nuclear, the botched effort to rush to a deal last week was based on a decision to accept in principle the Islamist regime’s longstanding claim that it had a “right” to enrich uranium. While many in the Senate think the administration is making a terrible mistake, the White House and its defenders are claiming there is no real choice. As the New York Times asks in its editorial defending a faltering Kerry, “what is the alternative?”

But the administration and the Times are asking the wrong question.

By getting trapped in a diplomatic tangle that can only be resolved by a deal that will leave Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure, its uranium enrichment process, and its plutonium option in place, Kerry is accepting Iran’s point of view about the dispute. In essence, he is telling Congress, Israel, and the Saudis that there is no way the Iranians will ever give up their reactors, centrifuges or their stockpile of enriched uranium so all we can do is get them to accept limits that, even if they will be easily evaded, will at least avoid the threat of further confrontation or war. If the question they are really posing to critics is not whether this course of action is the best way to avoid a nuclear Iran but whether it is the best way to avoid a messy and unpredictable conflict, Kerry is right.

But if we change the question from how best to come to some agreement with the ayatollahs to how to stop them from getting a bomb, the answer is very different. And that is why Congress must use the pause in the talks to step up and demand that the president and Kerry stick to what has always been America’s goal: preventing a nuclear Iran. And the only way to do that is to tighten sanctions and to insist that any deal be predicated on eliminating any chance that the Islamist regime will not do as the North Koreans have already done and simply negotiate and delay their way to a bomb.

What almost happened last weekend in Geneva was so dangerous precisely because by presenting a fait accompli to the world, Kerry would have permanently altered the terms of the debate about Iran. The proposed accord that Kerry planned to sign, had not the French intervened at the last minute to insist on better terms for the West, would have left in place the Iranian nuclear infrastructure and made the achievement of their nuclear capacity inevitable and taken tougher sanctions and the use of force off the table for good. Though Kerry is acting as if this is only a temporary setback that will be rectified later this month when the parties reconvene, it did not escape Iran’s notice that Kerry was hot for a weaker deal than was ultimately offered. That means they will continue to hold out for those easily transgressed terms since they reason that sooner or later the U.S. will tell the French to pipe down and let diplomacy triumph.

That is why it is crucial that Congress act in such a way as to strengthen the West’s resolve not to settle for a bad deal now. There is little chance that Iran will ever give up its nuclear quest, as it has become a fundamental issue for the regime. But a sanctions bill now will signal to Tehran that its belief that America is the weak link in the international community’s efforts to rein them in is mistaken.

The whole point of Kerry’s haste to put a deal with Iran in place is that he wanted to avoid a debate on its terms and to head off any effort by Congress to tighten sanctions. The Senate should move ahead on the sanctions that will make it more difficult for Iran to continue selling its oil and using the proceeds to fund terrorism and its nuclear project. Kerry’s latest follies make it imperative that what we have now is not so much an argument about tactics but also one about the goal of American diplomacy.

What must be rejected are not only the terms of a weak diplomatic deal that was so repugnant that even the French couldn’t stomach them, but the mindset that made it possible. After years of failed diplomacy, the administration is now accepting the notion that rollback of Iran’s nuclear program is impossible. That’s why even though no agreement was signed in Geneva, the latest negotiations were such a triumph for Iran.

Instead of conceding defeat, an America that was truly dedicated to frustrating Iran’s nuclear ambitions would be doubling down on sanctions rather than offering to weaken them. Iran has proved time and again that it regards diplomacy as merely a way to delay and prevaricate until they reach their nuclear goal. But even if we were to hold onto hope that diplomacy could succeed, the only way that could possibly happen is by increasing pressure on the Iranians now that they are finally feeling the impact of sanctions. If every chance must be given to diplomacy, then what is needed now is an approach that illustrates to Iran’s supreme leader that his only alternative to war is a surrender of his country’s “right” to enrichment and the rest of their nuclear toys.

Thus, the responsibility now for members of the Senate is not so much to poke a stick in Kerry’s eye by ignoring the administration’s pleas and passing the tough sanctions that were already approved by the House as it is for them to help restart the discussion about what America’s goals are. If the rush to appeasement of Iran is to be halted, now is the moment for action.

Read Less

Is Anything the White House Said About ObamaCare True?

Keeping up to date on all the ObamaCare revelations, one could be forgiven for wondering: Is anything the administration has said about the health-care reform plan true? The promises underpinning the passage of the law certainly weren’t true. But there seems to be an almost compulsive nature to the denial of reality.

The latest example comes from the Washington Post, which reports that since the early enrollment numbers on the ObamaCare exchanges are far below their targets–as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday–the administration has made a decision on how to present those numbers to the public: they will essentially just make them up. They will be based on a true story, as movie taglines often say. But that’s the closest they’ll get to the truth if the administration pursues this tactic:

Read More

Keeping up to date on all the ObamaCare revelations, one could be forgiven for wondering: Is anything the administration has said about the health-care reform plan true? The promises underpinning the passage of the law certainly weren’t true. But there seems to be an almost compulsive nature to the denial of reality.

The latest example comes from the Washington Post, which reports that since the early enrollment numbers on the ObamaCare exchanges are far below their targets–as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday–the administration has made a decision on how to present those numbers to the public: they will essentially just make them up. They will be based on a true story, as movie taglines often say. But that’s the closest they’ll get to the truth if the administration pursues this tactic:

The fight over how to define the new health law’s success is coming down to one question: Who counts as an Obamacare enrollee?

Health insurance plans only count subscribers as enrolled in a health plan once they’ve submited  a payment. That is when the carrier sends out a member card and begins paying doctor bills.

When the Obama administration releases health law enrollment figures later this week, though, it will use a more expansive definition. It will count people who have purchased a plan as well as  those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid.

“In the data that will be released this week, ‘enrollment’ will measure people who have filled out an application and selected a qualified health plan in the marketplace,” said an administration official, who requested anonymity to frankly describe the methodology.

There are a couple of aspects to this that would be hilarious if it weren’t about the federal government using your money to wreck your health care. You have to love terming the definition of an enrollee as “expansive.” That is quite generous. The Obama administration’s definition of an enrollee is not so much “expansive” as it is false. We can (and should) dispense with the Orwellian language. The administration will count those who have purchased a plan and those who haven’t purchased a plan as enrollees.

It’s a scam, and it starts to get creepy after a while, as indicated by the other darkly humorous part in that write-up, in the anonymous administration official’s quote about the enrollee definition. It’s unclear whether the scare quotes around “enrollment” were put there by the source (say, in an email to the reporter) or by the Post. Either way, the quotes indicate that the Department of Health and Human Services has hired Inigo Montoya: the government doesn’t think that word means what you think it means.

In fact, it means whatever the government decides it means. It’s a truly postmodern health-care system now.

Conservatives have long been concerned that the expansion of Medicaid and the onerous regulations put on insurance companies would crowd the private sphere out of health care. But at least with regard to fraud, the government has invited plenty of competition from the private sector.

CBS reports that “the project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security. Those failures could lead to identity theft among buying insurance. The project manager testified to congressional investigators behind closed doors, but CBS News has obtained the first look at a partial transcript of his testimony.”

The project manager, Henry Chao, testified that he was never shown an internal memo warning of the security risks to the federal website. That memo gave deadlines, apparently, of mid-2014 and 2015 to have those security weaknesses fixed. So if you use the federal health-care website to sign up for insurance, your personal information may–at the earliest, and we all know how the government treats deadlines–be secure in a couple of years. Possibly.

If you don’t want to feed your personal information directly to identity thieves, you can use a government “navigator” to put your private information at great risk. As John Fund reports on James O’Keefe’s latest string of investigations, the government’s health-care “navigators” can provide you will all sorts of technical support–they can help you defraud the government, or help you get defrauded yourself, whatever you’re in the mood for. The government is also relying on the efforts of groups like Enroll America, who seem to have wandered a bit from the purpose of their “enrollment” mission:

Enroll America, O’Keefe reports, appears to be sharing data and working directly with an explicitly political group called Battleground Texas, activities that he notes “are prohibited unless certain conditions are met.” Adrian Bell, the regional field director for Battleground Texas, proudly notes the group was “started by President Obama’s national field director” and is “dedicated to turning Texas blue.”

So your personal information is being processed by people who haven’t passed a background check into a computer system wide open to identity thieves and which will then be available to the group trying to win elections for Democrats. Oh, and those enrollment figures Kathleen Sebelius says the administration didn’t have? They had them.

Dishonesty from top to bottom. If you removed the fraud from ObamaCare, it’s unclear if there would be anything left.

Read Less

Military Budget Numbers Don’t Add Up

Two items from Politico’s Morning Defense Roundup caught my eye today.

Item 1: “As Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation became painfully clear yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other Navy ships to sail for the Philippines as quickly as possible….The George Washington is carrying Carrier Air Wing 5 with nine squadrons that include strike fighters, electronic attack aircraft and – crucially for disaster relief – MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. Two Navy cruisers and one destroyer are also expected to be on station with the carrier in as soon as two days.”

Item 2: “Just when Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale thought things could not get more uncertain and chaotic, they have. Now, he faces three very different budget scenarios for 2014, ranging from President Barack Obama’s $527 billion request for the Pentagon’s base budget to the $475 billion if sequestration is allowed to happen in January. ‘We still don’t know what fiscal ’14 is, which is an extraordinary situation,’ Hale said.”

There is a fundamental disconnect between these two news stories. The first story demonstrates that the demand for the U.S. military’s services is as great as ever and is hardly limited to war-fighting in the strictest sense. When an ally like the Philippines is hit with a natural disaster, the U.S. government naturally and rightly wants to help. How? There’s no civilian corps of disaster-response experts who can be scrambled to a faraway country at a minute’s notice. Only the U.S. military can do that.

Read More

Two items from Politico’s Morning Defense Roundup caught my eye today.

Item 1: “As Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation became painfully clear yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other Navy ships to sail for the Philippines as quickly as possible….The George Washington is carrying Carrier Air Wing 5 with nine squadrons that include strike fighters, electronic attack aircraft and – crucially for disaster relief – MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. Two Navy cruisers and one destroyer are also expected to be on station with the carrier in as soon as two days.”

Item 2: “Just when Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale thought things could not get more uncertain and chaotic, they have. Now, he faces three very different budget scenarios for 2014, ranging from President Barack Obama’s $527 billion request for the Pentagon’s base budget to the $475 billion if sequestration is allowed to happen in January. ‘We still don’t know what fiscal ’14 is, which is an extraordinary situation,’ Hale said.”

There is a fundamental disconnect between these two news stories. The first story demonstrates that the demand for the U.S. military’s services is as great as ever and is hardly limited to war-fighting in the strictest sense. When an ally like the Philippines is hit with a natural disaster, the U.S. government naturally and rightly wants to help. How? There’s no civilian corps of disaster-response experts who can be scrambled to a faraway country at a minute’s notice. Only the U.S. military can do that.

But the military is under severe strain right now because of budget cuts which are only going to get worse. The Pentagon comptroller is dreaming if he thinks Congress will repeal sequestration. Assuming these Draconian cuts continue to be implemented—and that’s almost certain right now—the result will be to eviscerate the very capabilities the U.S. military needs to respond not only to typhoons and earthquakes but also to more direct threats to our national security. For example, Hagel is contemplating reducing the number of aircraft carriers from 11 to eight or nine. Even before that happens, the readiness levels of all of our military forces—land, sea, and air—have been hurt by the ongoing budget cuts.

Yet there is no major push in Washington to reduce the number of missions the U.S. military is being asked to carry out. Our political leaders seem to want the armed forces to carry out 100 percent of their existing missions with only 70 percent of the funding. (Sequestration combined with earlier budget cuts will result in a roughly 30 percent reduction in the military budget over the next decade.) And even much of the existing budget is being swallowed up by personnel and health-care costs with increasingly little left over for operations, training, or weapons procurement. That doesn’t add up.

Read Less

To Fight Assimilation, Stop Dumbing Down Judaism

A major topic of this year’s General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America is how to combat assimilation. At the conference, which is being held in Jerusalem this week, JFNA leaders have unveiled various ambitious ideas, including free universal Jewish preschool. I’d like to offer a much simpler proposal: Just stop dumbing down Judaism. American Jews overwhelmingly receive excellent secular educations; they are exposed to the most challenging, rigorous, thought-provoking material available in science, philosophy, history, and literature. Yet they rarely encounter Judaism at a level more intellectually challenging than a kindergarten class. And as long as that’s true, Judaism will never be able to compete with the secular world for their attention.

Ironically, the Orthodox were way ahead of the non-Orthodox in grasping this, and it’s one reason why Orthodox retention rates are currently much higher than non-Orthodox ones. As far back as 1917, one of Poland’s leading Orthodox rabbis, the Chofetz Chaim, approved the opening of Bais Yaakov, the first school to teach Torah to girls. His reasoning was simple: It had become normal for girls to attend secular schools, and if they didn’t obtain a comparable Jewish education, they wouldn’t stay Jewish. The same understanding fueled the opening of numerous high-level women’s yeshivas in recent decades: Today, girls routinely attend not just secondary school, but college and graduate school; hence their Jewish learning must also be on a higher level. 

Read More

A major topic of this year’s General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America is how to combat assimilation. At the conference, which is being held in Jerusalem this week, JFNA leaders have unveiled various ambitious ideas, including free universal Jewish preschool. I’d like to offer a much simpler proposal: Just stop dumbing down Judaism. American Jews overwhelmingly receive excellent secular educations; they are exposed to the most challenging, rigorous, thought-provoking material available in science, philosophy, history, and literature. Yet they rarely encounter Judaism at a level more intellectually challenging than a kindergarten class. And as long as that’s true, Judaism will never be able to compete with the secular world for their attention.

Ironically, the Orthodox were way ahead of the non-Orthodox in grasping this, and it’s one reason why Orthodox retention rates are currently much higher than non-Orthodox ones. As far back as 1917, one of Poland’s leading Orthodox rabbis, the Chofetz Chaim, approved the opening of Bais Yaakov, the first school to teach Torah to girls. His reasoning was simple: It had become normal for girls to attend secular schools, and if they didn’t obtain a comparable Jewish education, they wouldn’t stay Jewish. The same understanding fueled the opening of numerous high-level women’s yeshivas in recent decades: Today, girls routinely attend not just secondary school, but college and graduate school; hence their Jewish learning must also be on a higher level. 

But in the non-Orthodox community, Jewish education never comes close to the intellectual rigor of secular studies. Almost every American Jew who has attended a non-Orthodox Hebrew school can attest to this; just last week, the Forward ran a piece by an associate professor, Michah Gottlieb, deploring the lack of opportunities for serious Torah study at his childhood synagogue. My own experience is equally typical: During 12 years of Hebrew school, the numbing boredom was punctured by only two classes that offered comparable intellectual stimulation to my secular public schools–and both were taught by Orthodox rabbis. The difference was that they took classic Jewish texts seriously, insisting that we read, analyze, and debate them with the same rigor I encountered in secular history or literature classes.

The good news is that, given a chance, Judaism can easily compete with the best secular thought has to offer. There’s a reason why Jewish sources have inspired some of the greatest non-Jewish writers and thinkers throughout the ages–including many of the 17th-century political theorists who laid the foundations of modern democracy. As Herzl Institute President Yoram Hazony noted in a 2005 essay, “Hobbes was learned in Hebrew, and his magnum opus Leviathan devotes over three hundred pages to the political teachings of Scripture. Locke knew Hebrew as well, and the first of his Two Treatises on Government is devoted to biblical interpretation … [John Selden’s] 1635 treatise on the law of the sea, Mare Clausum—one of the founding texts of international law—argued for the concept of national sovereignty on both land and sea on the basis of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud.”

In Israel, serious study of classic Jewish sources has exploded in recent years–not because secular Jews are becoming Orthodox, but because they’ve understood that these texts are their heritage, too. American Jews need to offer their children similar opportunities. For without being exposed to Judaism’s intellectual riches, they will never consider it worth a lifetime’s commitment.

Read Less

James Pethokoukis: COMMENTARY’s Intellectual Armor

The freedom agenda is under attack, both at home and abroad. As America retreats overseas, the American government expands domestically. Now, more than ever, we need strong, clear voices to engage in the battle of ideas from foreign policy to culture to economics. Long before I ever wrote for COMMENTARY, I read COMMENTARY. And now as then, I find my arguments and my spirit the better for it. COMMENTARY is simply an indispensable piece of the intellectual armor I don everyday as a columnist and blogger.

Help support COMMENTARY. Please click here to donate.

The freedom agenda is under attack, both at home and abroad. As America retreats overseas, the American government expands domestically. Now, more than ever, we need strong, clear voices to engage in the battle of ideas from foreign policy to culture to economics. Long before I ever wrote for COMMENTARY, I read COMMENTARY. And now as then, I find my arguments and my spirit the better for it. COMMENTARY is simply an indispensable piece of the intellectual armor I don everyday as a columnist and blogger.

Help support COMMENTARY. Please click here to donate.

Read Less

Turkish Columnists Eulogize Democracy

I and many others have written for quite some time about the erosion of democracy, liberalism, tolerance, and constitutionalism inside Turkey. Many liberals and reformers inside Turkey, however, had little patience for such hang-wringing about the dangerous dismantling of checks and balances or for concern about the intentions of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s prime minister.

No longer. In recent months—starting first with the crackdown on protestors in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, continuing to Erdoğan’s subsequent efforts to stir the hornet’s nest, and most recently his efforts to segregate the sexes—have led many Turkish intellectuals—liberals and moderate Islamists both—to realize they have been had. There is no more doubt inside Turkey Erdoğan cares an iota for democracy or for individual rights.

Read More

I and many others have written for quite some time about the erosion of democracy, liberalism, tolerance, and constitutionalism inside Turkey. Many liberals and reformers inside Turkey, however, had little patience for such hang-wringing about the dangerous dismantling of checks and balances or for concern about the intentions of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s prime minister.

No longer. In recent months—starting first with the crackdown on protestors in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, continuing to Erdoğan’s subsequent efforts to stir the hornet’s nest, and most recently his efforts to segregate the sexes—have led many Turkish intellectuals—liberals and moderate Islamists both—to realize they have been had. There is no more doubt inside Turkey Erdoğan cares an iota for democracy or for individual rights.

In recent days, there have been two important columns eulogizing the end of democracy, or at least hopes for true democracy written by once-close aides and supporters. First, Ahmet Hakan, once very close to Erdoğan, has now published an important column declaring just how dangerous Erdoğan has become. Asking “Why is he [Erdoğan] doing this?” he answers with a list describing Erdoğan’s dictatorial mentality and his desire for a police state:

  • “Believes that his own idea of morality should be adopted by everyone;
  • Does not even regard it as possible that there may be other moral concepts…
  • Thinks he has the right to interfere in other people’s lives and thinks he is doing this for the happiness of the people;
  • Assumes that he can arrange Turkey as if it his own house;
  • Believes that he is obliged to prevent the committing of sin…
  • Divides the lives of his citizens into “legitimate” and “illegitimate” lives;
  • Sees no harm in openly expressing that “illegitimate” lives could be raided with the police;
  • Thinks that citizens who are not controlled by the state will pursue all kinds of malice in their private lives;
  • Believes there are parents who want police to monitor the lives of their children;
  • Is convinced that he could solve issues by assigning police to every household;
  • Has over-expanded the archaic mentality of “I am responsible for the decency of the neighborhood” to “the decency of Turkey is my responsibility;” 
  • Is not even aware of the difference between “crime” and “sin;” 
  • Is able to plan bans, crimes and punishments based on sin;
  • Embraces the opinion that even houses can be breached to prevent sin;
  • Does not consider such interference as an intervention into people’s private lives if it is done to prevent sin;
  • Is not even aware that what he is doing is simply social engineering; 
  • Sees social engineering as bad when it is Kemalists who do it; regards it as wonderful if he is doing it;
  • Has totally discarded the issue of individual rights and freedoms from his personal agenda.
  • Well, this prime minister has plunged into this matter with all his sincerity, without acting or pretending, without considering any strategy, without any doubt that what he is doing is right, without any tactics. And, this is the “worst” and the “most dangerous” side of the thing.
  • But even worse and more dangerous is that there is not a single person left around the prime minister who has the courage to say, “What you are doing is wrong; you can’t do it like this,” even though they do think that what the prime minister is doing is wrong. 

Likewise, in Today’s Zaman, the newspaper of Islamist cult leader Fethullah Gülen, columnist Bülent Keneş laments the end of democracy in Turkey:

The men of the nation have been involved in a strong, bitter struggle against the Kemalist/militarist state, dominated by a minority, for the sake of natural rights and freedoms. Of course, this was not a bloody or violent struggle. It was a struggle for democracy, the rule of law and rights and freedoms. It was a justified struggle and because it was just, the struggle was actually won for the most part… As these men of the nation had overcome every difficulty and obstacle as well as instances of victimization thanks to the support and prayers of the people, they had become stronger. They were both morally and legally right in this struggle and, as a result, they were winning. And as they have continued to win, they have become stronger. And as they have become stronger, they have changed. Imagine this vicious cycle: as they have changed, they have lost the ethical and moral ground they held as their major asset.

The irony is that even as Erdoğan’s aides come clean, President Obama, the State Department, and a succession of U.S. ambassadors to Turkey have refused to recognize Turkey’s dictatorship for what it is. There can be no democracy when the government refuses to recognize the importance of individual rights and liberty. Never again should an Islamist leader be blessed as a democrat by the State Department unless that leader subscribes to the notion that individuals have rights that transcend communal religious dictates.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.