How Obama Will Deal With Our Wayward Ally, Turkey
July 01, 2010
It’s a shock to see one of the pillars of American foreign policy start to disintegrate before our very eyes. That’s what seems to be happening to the relationship between the United States and Turkey, which policymakers in both countries have taken for granted for decades. I know it’s often said that formal alliances are losing their central place in international politics. If so, maybe the bad blood between Ankara and Washington is just part of a trend, something we wearily adjust to.
I’ve known Richard Cohen, the well-known and deservedly well-placed Washington Post columnist, for years. We’re certainly not close, and there has been a low-key ideological (and psychological) distance between us for years. I think some of his writings on the Palestinians are—let me be gentle—frightfully soft. I would guess that he probably thinks that some of my writings on the Palestinians are frightfully ferocious. But he is no enemy of Israel.
Sorry for the bad pun. But it's 1:30 a.m. Monday morning. Turkish political culture is now in tatters. Or, rather, its sensible political culture is in tatters. But the sensible Kemalists were no longer so sensible. They were corrupt, they were very authoritarian, they exported what some of them explicitly called their "surplus population" to Europe. These were mostly Kurds with Turkish passports. Now, some of them are called "Germans." But the reality is that many of them are internal Kurdish exiles.
Turkey Is Now The Key To Arab Politics. Beware: Built Up By Obama, Erdogan Is Playing The Wild Card
June 22, 2010
From the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Executive Director Robert Satloff comes this analysis: The Gaza Flotilla Incident: Impact on Three Key Arab Actors By Robert Satloff June 22, 2010 The Gaza flotilla episode pitted Israel versus Turkey, with Arabs as bystanders and observers. Yet reverberations of the incident have had a keen impact across Arab capitals. Egypt: Policy Adrift The country most negatively affected has been Egypt.
Better A Bad Press Than A Good Epitaph
June 13, 2010
Actually, the hysteria about the Israeli encounter with the Turkish goons has abated. And it has probably come to the attention of some reasonable people that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is working the seas not exactly for the interests of the Turks but for the Islamic crusade being led by the Iranian clerisy and secret police. I know little about Erdogan but something more about Turkey. The last century of its history is being betrayed in an avalanche of thuggish holiness. Its economy is not doing as bad as that of Greece. But just wait. Tourism is going down, down, down ...
Abbas Doesn't Want the Embargo Lifted Either
June 13, 2010
There's a fascinating dispatch in Ha'aretz reporting that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear to President Obama that he doesn't want Israel's naval blockade against Hamas lifted. This should be no surprise, and it raises difficult questions for both America and the meddlesome Europeans who can produce nothing diplomatically but hot air. In fact, why doesn't Europe attend to its own terrible problems, among which are the survival of the Eurozone itself and the very liquidity of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland? What does that mean? Leave Israel alone. But it won'
June 12, 2010
“Here’s how I play,” John Coltrane remarked in an interview in 1961. “I start from one point and go as far as possible. But, unfortunately, I never lose my way.” It was not long before Coltrane escaped the confinement of what he already knew, and made exploration itself into his highest value; but it must also be said that an ethic of unending exploration, a life of serial certitudes, may also be shallow and a mark of mere restlessness. There are many ways to be lost. (Coltrane at the end of his questing life certainly sounds lost to me.
June 10, 2010
In the wake of Israel’s sanguinary assault on the MV Mavi Marmara, much of the debate has focused on the question of whether those aboard the Free Gaza flotilla were humanitarians, peace activists, or Hamas supporters. The benign, and, crucially, the depoliticized interpretation was that they were humanitarians bringing aid to a besieged people desperately in need of it.
How Netanyahu Threatens Israel's safety
June 09, 2010
Gadi Taub has a spot-on take: Israelis are stunned by the fact that the world has grown to think of Hamas as the righteous victim and of Israel as the evil aggressor. This perception of Israel is false and malicious, but it does not mean that Israel bears no responsibility for it. Yes, there is a lot of anti-Semitism in the world. Yes, there are unfair biases against the Jewish state. But Israel has been feeding them. So long as Israel’s government continues to settle in the West Bank, no one—not even Israel’s American friends—will believe that Netanyahu seeks peace.
June 09, 2010
Tel Aviv, Israel — There once was a very successful campaign in Israel for road safety. Its slogan was, “On the road, don’t be right, be smart." The day after the flotilla raid last week, more than one pundit in the Israeli press brought up the slogan. We’re right, they said, but why can’t we also be smart? The raid was by no means smart. Israel blindly stepped into a p.r. campaign orchestrated by Turkey and Hamas, doing enormous damage to its own international image and credibility. But the raid was not an isolated incident.