The other speech tonight…

Tonight Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert addressed the AIPAC policy conference currently underway in Washington, and as expected Iran was the centerpiece of his presentation. He made clear that the military option against the Iranian nuclear program remains very much on the table, if not a main course warming in the oven:

The Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means. International economic and political sanctions on Iran, as crucial as they may be, are only an initial step, and must be dramatically increased. Iran’s defiance of international resolutions and its continued tactics of deception and denial leave no doubt as to the urgent need for more drastic and robust measures. The sanctions must be clearly defined and religiously enforced. Any willingness to overlook Iranian violations or justify Iran’s questionable tactics will immediately be interpreted as a sign of weakness and will only encourage them to proceed with more vigor.

He then called on the nations of the world to individually impose sanctions on Iran:

Each and every country must understand that the long-term cost of a nuclear Iran greatly outweighs the short-term benefits of doing business with Iran. … Sanctions can be imposed on the export of gasoline to Iran and they can be imposed on countries which refine gasoline for Iran. Governments should announce that Iranian businessmen are no longer welcome in their countries, and that funds arriving from or channeled to Iran should not be transferred through their banks.

Then there’s Syria, about which Olmert articulated only a few platitudes, telegraphing the improbability of the current talks:

Syria is currently a threat to regional stability, but if it ultimately makes the choice to have peace relations with Israel, for which it will have to disengage from its allies in the Axis of Evil, this will constitute a drastic, strategic shift in the entire Middle East.

At least he threw in an Axis of Evil reference, which in regard to Syria is about the biggest acknowledgment he’s made of the existence of the Bush administration. Olmert’s Syria gambit is a continuing insult to Washington, which in 2005, after several years of fruitless engagement made a wise decision: that it would not permit Syria, as during the Clinton years, to dance at two weddings — to host terror groups in Damascus, ally with Iran, sponsor Hezbollah, dominate Lebanon, and encourage proxy wars on Israel while also enjoying western engagement, peace overtures, and lavish international attention. Today even the Arab states have ostracized Syria. But not Olmert. One hopes that a stern reprimand will be administered to him in Washington. (For more, please read this excellent piece by David Schenker.)

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The other speech tonight…

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The Democratic Party’s False Centrism

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The idea that speech can itself constitute an act of violence grows ever more popular among the left’s leading polemicists. They argue that employing a politically incorrect word can be triggering; that the wrong gender pronoun can provoke; that words and sentences and parts of speech are all acts of aggression in disguise. The left seeks to stop this violence, or less euphemistically: to silence this speech.

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Polish Democracy in the Balance

Democracy dies while the president looks the other way.

Past U.S. presidents have used their bully pulpit to campaign for human-rights and democracy. By encouraging the unprecedented wave of democratization that has swept the world since 1945, their words and actions had consequences. That’s not something that Donald Trump does. Far from it; he positively praises dictators. His words have consequences, too, and they are not good.

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