Middle East

Joe Sobran, a syndicated columnist who was himself accused of anti-Semitism a few years ago, offers this perspective on the Pat Buchanan flap: "Jewish claims are being cut down to size in various ways. It's coded by a lot of Jews as anti-Semitism. I don't think it is. It's more like counter-Semitism.'' Sobran says that "counter-Semitism," unlike anti-Semitism, does not seek a "negative outcome" for Jews.

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Field of Dreams

From Beirut to Jerusalem By Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 525 pp., $22.95) Thomas Friedman’s account of his journey as a reporter from Beirut to Jerusalem is rich in precisely the qualities that made his dispatches from those two capitals so memorable, and so breathtaking. We have to go back to David Halberstam, and perhaps to Homer Bigart, for another American foreign correspondent so unerringly alert to the illuminating detail.

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We want them to beat the Soviets, but what if the mujahedin take over?

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In the Middle East, as in much of the world, if a ruler can ward off the assassin’s hand, he need  not govern effectively or justly to remain in power. But the career of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi demonstrates that the key to power in a place like Libya is not just brute force. It is the ability to mesmerize the mob. The mob is fickle, easily roused and easily disenchanted. With minimum expectations of what life might otherwise offer in a rationally organized economy and free polity, it feeds on slogans and fantasies.

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War Against the West

The reason for Moscow's receding influence is disarmingly simple: Marx and mosque are incompatible. —John Kifner, the New York Times, September 14, 1980 We are fated, as the old Chinese chestnut has it, to live in interesting times, and never more so than in the last 18 months, which have been witness to one of the most resounding collapses of foreign policy to have occurred in modern history.

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The Light in the East

    During the last week in August in 1980 a new kind of light appeared in Poland, illuminating the world scene in an unexpected way. An eerie sentence swam into my mind, the one that Winston Churchill wrote about 1914 when the pall of the parochial Irish crisis hung over the warm summer evening of the British Empire; and when the parishes of Fermanagh and Tyrone faded into the mists and squalls of Ireland, "and a strange light began immediately, but by perceptible gradations, to fall and grow upon the map of Europe." That strange light, in 1914, was the glimmering advent of World War I.

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How does he do it? Here is an administration in ruins. Here is a president who has nearly quadrupled the inflation rate at home, has produced the highest interest rates in American history, and now is deliberately steering the nation into a recession; abroad he has kicked away confidence among friends and foes alike in the sobriety, consistence, and reliability of American foreign policy. Six months ago he was nowhere in the polls.

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Kennedy, Take Two

  In the little town of Boone, Iowa, last month. Senator Edward Kennedy was asked one of the crucial questions of the 1980 campaign. The question was put by Mrs.

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Premature Prizes

Orwell said it about saints, but Nobel peace laureates also should always be judged guilty until they are proven innocent. No doubt it would have appeared more seemly had the authorities in Oslo waited to bestow their decorations till a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt actually had been signed. In any case it is evident, at least in the cases of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, that the Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded on the basis of either character or personal history. The two have been honored for their last act, and an uncompleted one at that.

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Russian Roulette

During his US tour last spring Leonid Brezhnev heralded a fresh era in Soviet-American friendship as he embraced Wall Street bankers, hugged Hollywood actors and flattered Richard Nixon. Now, by encouraging and aiding the Arabs against Israel and thereby raising the spectre of renewed superpower confrontation, the Russians have moved from grins to grimaces. Their turnabout, it seems to me, can be explained in a single word—priorities.

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