Yes, We Have To Save Yemen, Too
February 13, 2010
No, I am not deserting the president on this one either. Any country that is under siege by Al Qaeda is likely to have strategic and/or ideological interest to us. But it’s a big stretch to argue that we have a democratic interest in Yemen’s future. It will not be before hell freezes over that we may have such an interest in Yemen. That time is neither now nor tomorrow. And since history in the Arabian Peninsula moves in geological time, let’s stop deluding ourselves about another democratic ally. Our interest in Yemen is strategic.
Let Europe Mind Its Own Business. It Brings Nothing To The Table Save For Mischief.
February 12, 2010
Europe is a mess. Greece is the country on the continent closest to utter wreck. (And, if not for statements yesterday by Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy, there would literally be no hope for a life raft anywhere near Athens soon. This morning's FT smothers even those wan hopes.) Spain, Portugal and Ireland are not far behind ... or under. Each of these countries has views on how Israel deals with the Palestinians, and they don't like it at all. Neither do the past and present "foreign ministers"—so to speak, but not exactly—of the European Union.
Rinse, Wash, Repeat
February 12, 2010
I don’t think anyone would mistake me for a big fan of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main (as they put it) “pro-Israel” lobby in Washington. The only organization of that kind that I’ve ever given money to is Americans for Peace Now in Israel. And I have defended critics of AIPAC, including Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of The Israel Lobby, from charges of anti-Semitism. But I think Walt and Mearsheimer have been dead wrong in trying to blame the Israel lobby or the Israeli government for America’s invasion of Iraq.
Clarifying My Take On Andrew Sullivan
February 11, 2010
A little more on Andrew and the charge of anti-Semitism. In my response to Leon, I wrote: I don't think that Andrew's transformation from overwrought hawk to overwrought dove is driven by, or has brought about, a different view of Jews. It seems instead to be the shattering of a brittle worldview and its replacement by a new worldview, equally brittle. Andrew replies: I have no different view of "Jews" than I have ever had. Having any view of "Jews" is silly. I guess I didn't write that as precisely as I wanted to.
Free Speech On Campus
February 10, 2010
One of my fond memories from being an undergraduate in the early 1990s was the fervent conviction of the campus left that their opponents were not entitled to express their beliefs. Some of the more erudite among them, like Catherine MacKinnon, would formulate elaborate theories explaining why freedom of speech was a pernicious myth. But mostly the opinion took the form of slogans. Racism is not free speech. Sexism is not free speech.
Andrew Sullivan Is Not an Anti-Semite
February 09, 2010
Not long ago, Andrew Sullivan had ultra-hawkish views on Israel and the Middle East. The problem as he saw it, was very simple: The Muslim world was anti-Semitic and wanted to kill all the Jews. Naive Western governments pushed innocent Israelis to make peace, when the only answer was force. Here are some excerpts from an August 2001 column he wrote: [T]he notion of a negotiable peace with the murdering hoodlums who run the PLO was always a fantasy.
Something Much Darker
February 08, 2010
I. “Trying to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to readers of The New Republic is not easy.” On June 2, 1944, W.H. Auden penned that sentence in a letter to Ursula Niebuhr. On January 26, 2010, Andrew Sullivan posted it as the “quote for the day” on his blog. Displaced and unglossed quotations are always in some way mordant, and bristle smugly with implications. Let us see what this one implies. Auden was at Swarthmore when he wrote his letter to his friend.
The Financial Times and the Satanization of Israel
February 01, 2010
The Financial Times is the six-day-a-week newspaper of the Pearson Publishing Group. It is, then, the sister of The Economist. Both are widely read, although the weekly magazine--that is, the latter journal--no longer has much competition in the English-speaking world. (And certainly not from Time or Newsweek.) Ten years ago, in a TNR piece about The Economist, Andrew Sullivan pointed out a particularly noxious passage in the magazine’s pages. Here’s what he wrote back then: Other vestigial Brittery abounds, including the usual condescension to Israel.
February 01, 2010
All deaths leave a void, but mourners for Avrom Sutzkever, arguably the greatest Yiddish poet of the twentieth century, are feeling an accordingly outsize loss. Remembering the life and reading the work, one is struck once more by how genius and circumstance combine to create a means of expressing the inexpressible--and in a way that seems, considering the circumstances, almost natural.
They’ve Been Telling Us All Along...
January 31, 2010
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, against which I warned long ago, passed unanimously on August 11, 2006. Two days later, the Israeli cabinet approved the motion 24-0--but with one astute minister abstaining. For whatever it is worth, I thought (and wrote) that the restrictions on Hezbollah (and, more than inferentially, on both Syria and Iran) meant less than nothing.