Israeli military

The United States needs to survey the new landscape that has emerged in the Middle East, and determine how it can shape it going forward.

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The ultimate goal of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, the next round of which commences in Moscow on June 18, has always been the same: Determining whether Iran is willing to accept that its nuclear program must be credibly limited in a way that precludes it from being able to turn civil nuclear power into nuclear weapons. The collective approach of the 5+1—the five permanent members of the U.N.

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The Need to Lead

Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global PowerBy Zbigniew Brzezinski (Basic Books, 208 pp., $26)  When it comes to offering a vision to guide American foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s latest book, unlike so much other literature of this type, refuses to lament or exaggerate the alleged decline in American power and influence. Instead Strategic Vision offers a kind of blueprint—a path that Washington must take, in Brzezinski’s view, to ensure a secure international order, in which free markets and democratic principles can thrive.

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The Visionary

If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.

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As tensions between Israel and Iran have grown in the past few weeks over the latter’s nuclear ambitions, the press has been asking how the U.S. might react to Israeli military action—or whether the U.S. might itself get involved. How do Americans feel about different military scenarios vis-à-vis Iran? According to a study from Pew Research released yesterday, Americans might be more supportive of war with Iran than you might expect.

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Maybe it's an admission of her utter irrelevance as kind-of foreign minister of the European Union, maybe she just wants her own show. But Baroness Ashton is not coming to Hillary Clinton's Middle East confab, no she is not. I wrote about her two or three times a while back, and not admiringly. And her performance since then, even in the eyes of official Europe sitting in Brussels, has not brought her many but also not any fans. She is one of those international bureaucrats whose life is travel, travel, travel. And pronounce, pronounce, pronounce.

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NG-Uh-O

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.

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Look, I wish the Israeli raid on the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” had ended differently. Why, I ask, didn’t Israel’s navy disable the engine of the Mavi Marmara and drag the ship into port? Who knows? The engines of the other boats were apparently disabled—or so reliable sources say. But, frankly, when some 800 men and women, distributed over six boats after weeks and weeks of preparation, are headed towards Gaza on the wings of slogan and hysteria, you don’t take that many chances.

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The most damning analysis of Richard Goldstone’s report was written for The New Republic by Moshe Halbertal, a moral and legal philosopher at Hebrew University and NYU Law School. On December 28 in The New York Times, columnist David Brooks saluted Halbertal’s essay as one of the best “long form articles that have narrative drive and social impact.” It certainly did have social impact, and, for weeks and weeks, the discussion of Goldstone revolved around Halbertal’s critique of him, of Goldstone’s tainted jury of judges, and of their enmeshment with the United Nations.

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The other day I wrote about a news report revealing that Richard Goldstone, as an Apartheid-era South African judge, had issued such rulings as acquitting police officers who broke into a white woman's home on suspicion that she was having sex with a black man. Goldstone directed a controversial U.N. Human Rights Council report on Israel's Gaza war. I concluded, "It's morally murky territory -- the ultimate question is whether and to what degree a white South African could take a position such as a judge for a regime that had such despicable laws.

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