The Last Chance for Peace Fantasy

This week, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is at it again. He’s threatening to break his agreements with Israel. Following a stunt at Davos where he pretended to want to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu (even though he has dodged actually possibilities for meetings with him), Abbas is playing the negotiations card again while saying that if Israel doesn’t release “prisoners” — i.e. convicted terrorists with blood on their hands — he will dissolve the PA and send the West Bank into an abyss of even greater chaos than currently exists. But unlike in the past, when such stunts mobilized Israeli leftists to protest the government and would motivate the Obama administration to issue statements pressuring Jerusalem to start making concessions, his latest antics aren’t generating much interest in either country. But nonetheless, there are still a few stray voices being raised on the left decrying what is seen as another missed opportunity. In what is a familiar argument that has been repeated endlessly since Abbas succeeded Yasir Arafat, we are told that the aging Palestinian represents the “last chance for peace.” But while Abbas’s eventual successor may be worse for both the Palestinians and Israelis than he is, the notion that he ever represented a chance for peace is a myth.

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The Last Chance for Peace Fantasy

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Charles Krauthammer, 1950-2018

A life well lived.

Charles Krauthammer made people understand their own thoughts. It was Charles who collated the various strands of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy and codified them as the Reagan Doctrine in a Time Magazine essay in 1985. He did the same with the Bush Doctrine 16 years later—and his codification played a role in how Bush himself came to formulate his approach to the world following 9/11. And in 2009, Charles codified the Obama Doctrine as well, although not by that name, in a speech he turned into one of the great articles of our time, “Decline Is a Choice.” I was there when he delivered that speech and rushed up to him to ask that he allow me to publish it in COMMENTARY, but I was too late; he had already promised it to The Weekly Standard.

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Social Justice vs. Human Nature

Downward leveling.

Last Friday, the New York Times revealed that a lawsuit targeting Harvard University claims the school has systematically discriminated against minorities. That is, one particular minority. The school, it was alleged, has handicapped Asian-American students. Otherwise, they’d have to accept too many qualified Asian-Americans. For a peculiar type of activist for social equality, this was the good kind of prejudice–the kind that privileges accidents of birth over individual merit and achievement. Or, in the soft, docile Newspeak that suffices to comfort the enlightened elites charged with keeping the deserving down: “racial balancing.”

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The Unsympathetic Opposition

Radicalism and self-injury.

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to be uncompromising when it came to immigration. For the most part, he has delivered. An executive order that restricted refugee intake and access to temporary visas in the first days of his administration sparked a wave of popular unrest, but the outrage subsided as Trump’s assaults on America’s permissive immigration regime became routinized. Only when Trump began breaking up the families of asylum seekers did the powerful public aversion we saw with the introduction of the “travel ban” again overtake the national consciousness. The abuse was so grotesque, the victims so sympathetic, and the administration’s insecurity so apparent that it broke the routine.

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Over-Population: The Malthusian Myth That Refuses to Die

A dangerous idea makes a comeback.

The word “ethics” appears prominently in the biographies of the authors who co-wrote a recent Washington Post op-ed lamenting the “taboo” associated with “talking about overpopulation.” Frances Kissling is the president of the Center for Health, Ethics, and Social Policy. Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Only Jotham Musinguzi, the “director general of Uganda’s National Population Council,” doesn’t mention “ethics” in the bio. That’s good because the Malthusian views promulgated in the piece are anything but ethical.

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Conservatives Against Virtue

The virtue of virtue.

At some point over the past two or three years–I’m not sure when exactly–“virtue” became a dirty word on the American right. There’s not a little irony in this development. If there’s one commitment that is supposed to tie the various strands of American conservatism, it’s the cultivation of the human virtues–those habits of the human spirit that aim at its perfection: Prudence, justice, courage, and temperance, according to the classical definition.

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