The Foreign Policy Awards
December 29, 2009
BIGGEST TACTICAL BLUNDER: Pushing the Israeli-Arab peace process too hard. Obama took office looking for bold strokes at a time when peace seemed as far away as ever: Israel had just finished its punishing military campaign in Gaza last winter, and the Arab world was inflamed, and deeply uninterested in making offerings to Israel. Obama's squeeze on Israeli settlements, meanwhile, managed to a) tick off a backlash in Israel that enabled the Netanyahu government to stand its ground, without b) shaking loose meaningful Arab support.
Eight Pieces, Really One: Iran, Israel's Military Doctrine, The President And One Dumb Jewish Woman, The Wages of Copenhagen, The Christmas Terrorist, We Should All Stop Talking About The Middle East
December 26, 2009
Jews usually go out to the movies on Christmas ... and then they go out to eat "Chinese." I've spent it writing. Below is my harvest. I wish you all good cheer. Here are the motifs of my writing day. Alas, none of them cheery. 1. THE REAL GRIM REAPER: HOLY DAY VICTIMS IN IRAQ AND PAKISTAN 2. COLD COMMON SENSE ABOUT IRAN FROM, MIRABILI DICTU, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" 3. A WISE EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTER: "WE SHOULD SHUT UP ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST" 4. A SOBER "TIMES" PIECE ON ISRAELI MILITARY DOCTRINE 5.
I don't mean to seem hardhearted. But I am frankly completely jaded--and made disbelieving--with the on-schedule, almost once-a-week story about the crisis in Gaza. Around Christmas, they are simply de rigeur. Here's a predictable one in the viciously anti-Israel, truly viciously anti-Israel, Financial Times. It is by Tobias Buck, who, while he can write these in his sleep, wrote this one just for Christmas.
Against the Green
December 23, 2009
As President Obama arrives empty-handed at the end of his year-long attempt to persuade Iran to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program, a curious paradox has emerged. Even if intensified--and highly costly--sanctions were to force the regime to comply with Western demands, an agreement between Tehran and Washington would benefit one party above all: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the illegitimate government that he now leads.
December 19, 2009
An extraordinary Iraq war film takes place at home-at homes--and moves through wartime experience known generally yet generally disregarded. The Messenger is about the Army’s Casualty Notification office. When a soldier is killed, two uniformed soldiers, usually decorated veterans, are sent to the soldier’s home to notify the next of kin personally.
Lowered Expectations for Middle East Peace
December 11, 2009
The Jerusalem Post says Obama is scaling back his diplomacy: With the Palestinians refusing to return to the negotiations, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not calling for a complete settlement freeze and the Arab world declining to make any gestures to Israel, the current sense in Jerusalem is that the US is scaling back its intensive involvement in the diplomatic process.
Innovation Nation: Israel
December 04, 2009
As America struggles to get its mojo back as a preeminent center of innovation and thereby prosperity, metropolitan and national economic leaders would do well to study the case of Israel. Israel? Yes, Israel.
What Israel Can Teach Us About Rebuilding an Economy
November 30, 2009
The wall between The Wall Street Journal’s news division and its editorial page makes for a lot of good reporting and a fair amount of cognitive dissonance as well. For example, the November 24 edition featured an article, tucked away on A14, about Israel’s response to the economic crisis. In it we learn that the Netanyahu government raised taxes, avoided traditional stimulus measures, and ruled out government bailouts for banks and bondholders.
November 28, 2009
Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations By Avi Shlaim (Verso, 392 pp., $34.95) Avi Shlaim burst upon the scene of Middle Eastern history in 1988, with the publication of Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Before that, as a young lecturer at Reading University in England, he had produced two books, British Foreign Secretaries Since 1945 (1977) and The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949 (1983), and several revealing essays on modern Middle Eastern historical issues in academic journals.
Losing the Democracies: Obama's Heart is With the Hooligans
November 24, 2009
At least, that's what many of our old and deeply democratic friends seem to feel. Now, it's hard to accept that the president of the United States would actually make that choice. He probably feels--but how do I really know? I actually don't--that the hooligans and especially the hooligans who produce our oil and the hooligans who buy our products are the folk we need court more than our historic allies. After all, what else can they do but stick with us? Tough darts! Obama's initiatives up to now--with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China--have been failures.