Benghazi and Obama’s Unfinished Business

As Max wrote on Friday, the explanations for the Pentagon to act in time to save the Americans trapped in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on 9/11/12 are unraveling the more we learn about what happened and the real-time information that was available to decision makers. But though the facts about the incident continue to dribble out, the response from most of the mainstream media to this scandal remains one of indifference. Indeed, to listen to many liberal pundits, once President Obama put the issue to sleep in the second presidential debate with a significant assist from CNN’s Candy Crowley, the only people who continue to think about the issue are right-wing nutcases. That the president responded by “taking offense” to a question on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about the information he and other senior officials might have known about the situation shows he thinks he can get away with the same sort of grandstanding he exhibited at that debate.

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Benghazi and Obama’s Unfinished Business

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Israel’s Wrongheaded Retreat on BDS

Anti-BDS efforts are essential, so they must be engaged seriously.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose a new law allowing Israel to bar entry to prominent supporters of anti-Israeli boycotts, one outcome was eminently predictable: Israel would lack the guts to enforce it even when doing so was most justified. That was amply proven by Wednesday’s decision to grant a one-year work visa to Human Rights Watch researcher Omar Shakir. By this decision, Israel eviscerated the one crucial point the law got right, despite the many it got wrong: You cannot wage an effective war on the BDS movement while giving the people behind it a pass. As the old truism goes, people are policy.

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Civilian Casualties in Airstrikes

How do you prevent civilian casualties when terrorists prefer them?

The Los Angeles Times has a major report on the number of civilians killed in airstrikes, both by the United States and its coalition partners in Mosul. Molly Hennessy-Fiske and W.J. Hennigan write:

A recent airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is believed to have caused more than 270 civilian deaths, a tragedy that provoked an international outpouring of grief and outrage. But the uproar over the March 17 deaths in the Jadidah neighborhood of Mosul masks a grim reality: Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of other civilians have died in hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during the war against Islamic State, and it appears likely that the vast majority of those deaths were never investigated by the U.S. military or its coalition partners. It also appears that the number of civilian casualties has risen in recent months as combat has shifted to densely populated west Mosul and the coalition has undertaken the heaviest bombing since the war began almost three years ago.

It is true that civilian deaths have increased, but the complaint that the United States must do more to investigate such deaths is misplaced for two reasons:

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Putin’s Propaganda Machine Targets Europe

Russian propaganda never sleeps.

You can’t win them all. After Vladimir Putin’s successful intervention in the U.S. election last year—successful in the sense that he helped to elect Donald Trump even if Trump isn’t delivering exactly the policies he hoped to see—he has mounted a similar disinformation effort to influence the French election. It didn’t work. At least not in the first round of voting, with the only anti-Putin candidate, Emmanuel Macron, finishing ahead of three pro-Putin contenders: Francois Fillon, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Marine Le Pen. But the Russians still have time to reach into their bag of tricks before the May 7 runoff between Macron and Le Pen.

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In Egypt, Pride above Economy?

Saudi-Egyptian tensions reveal what really matters in the Middle East.

It’s one of the ironies of Middle Eastern studies and Western media that the Israel-Palestinian conflict tends to get outsize coverage in comparison to so many other matters more pertinent to local Arabs. Consider border disputes: From Morocco across the region to Iran, the only neighbors who do not have border disputes are Israel and Egypt, Israel and Jordan, Algeria and Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and, ever since accepting international arbitration, Bahrain, and Qatar.

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Survivor’s Guilt and the Media

Emotional manipulation is not a great look.

If you can summon the resolve, pity the political media. Their jobs aren’t easy. To do them well means they will satisfy few and enrage the vocal, and none is as noisy today as the last of the Clinton family’s courtiers. In defeat, they are reduced to wielding their waning influence over anyone still listening. By focusing on media—a profession whose members are still torn over their role in electing Donald Trump to the presidency—the Clinton court has found a set of uniquely receptive scapegoats. Team Clinton is now throwing brushback pitches at the heads of reporters and pundits, and their targets are flinching.