The Party Line
April 07, 2010
Russia and the Arabs: Behind the Scenes in the Middle East from the Cold War to the Present By Yevgeny Primakov Translated by Paul Gould (Basic Books, 418 pp., $29.95) Over the decades, many people in the West, and certainly most Israelis, came to view the Soviet Union and then Russia as a force for ill, if not evil, in the Middle East, and perhaps farther afield as well.
What Are Nukes Good For?
April 07, 2010
The nuclear order seems to be falling apart. Gone is the uneasy balance between the cold war superpowers. We now face a slew of new nuclear actors. North Korea has reprocessed enough plutonium for perhaps ten bombs, in addition to the two it has already tested. Iran’s centrifuge program seems poised to produce weapons-grade uranium. And Syria was apparently constructing a clandestine nuclear facility, before it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in 2007. It’s not just enemies that pose a problem.
Putin Helps Put Chavez Into Space While Venezuela Goes On Holiday To Save Energy. Moscow Knows It's Doing Mischief
April 04, 2010
Venezuela is another one of those socialist nightmare/dream fantasies. While the tyranny may be Latin-lackadaisical, the slow but certain shutdown of centers of dissent goes on--and soon there will be nothing else to close. Except for the fact that there is a certain popular resilience to the tricks the dictator learned from Comrade Castro.
Maybe you remember Ivory Snow. Maybe you don’t. In any case, this is not about soap. It’s about murder, mass murder. Benny Morris has written, for next week’s hard-copy edition of TNR (available in this space some days thereafter), a review of a book by a Kremlin diplomatic hack named Yevgeny Primakov. It is called Russia and the Arabs. Morris proves that even a mendacious writer sometimes inadvertently tells the truth.
March 24, 2010
When Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law yesterday, it became official: health care was not to be, as certain Republicans promised, the president’s Waterloo. Republicans quickly swung to predicting that health care would instead be a deceptively successful but actually disastrous victory—more like Napoleon’s conquest of Moscow, say, which launched his bloody winter march from power.
Obama Won't Let Go. The Joys of Beating Up on an Ally.
March 24, 2010
I don't really know how the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu went. But a grim early story in the New York Times tells us that it was "tense." One fact we knew already before the White House encounter was that the president's echo in all of these matters, Hillary Clinton, addressed AIPAC with the emptiest reassurances that Israel's real security will be assured in any American design for a peace agreement. But there were actually two deep disenchantments, aside from the basic one. And the second has to do with Iran. Hillary denounced the Tehran regime, alright.
Sour Dour Baroness Ashton And The Deeds Of Bibi Netnayahu
March 21, 2010
The Baroness Ashton is a very unhappy woman. You can see it on her face, poor lady. And even the fact that she is now a “peer”--or should one still say “peeress”?--has not visibly altered her look. She is one of those ugly ducklings who has given her life to social causes, a type we all know. Alas, the outcome of such an existence is very rarely happiness. Take her work as treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), seen as a front by the Soviets, who secretly supplied as much as 38% of its budget.
March 12, 2010
As is often the case with tales of great discovery, the details of how buried treasure came to be found beneath the rolling countryside of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, have grown a little gauzy over the last 30 years. But here is the story as the prospectors tell it. One day, in March 1979, a man named Byrd Berman, a geologist by training, was driving down a road through cattle pastures when the scintillometer sitting on the dashboard of his Hertz rental car began to beep. The device, similar to a Geiger counter, was designed to detect the gamma radiation naturally emitted by uranium.
I’ve written myself about the Obama administration’s more-than-flatfooted policies on Syria (here, here, and here) and Iran (here, here, and here). So I am particularly gratified when I find myself in alignment with Barry Rubin, a truly brainy scholar with a slight polemical touch. His latest analysis is below. Syria is a galling instance of the president’s obsessions ... and for several reasons. A weak country, both economically and militarily, its only possible political sway is to exacerbate the hatreds of its neighbors towards Israel.
February 17, 2010
Let’s face it. America’s foreign policy is hardly healthier than its economy. Of course, jobs and taxes still dominate the politics of the day. Republicans will likely be running election campaigns on those matters. But, as foreign policy comes into focus more and more, Democrats may seek refuge from Barack Obama’s grand strategy and its consequences--or lack thereof. For, right now, Obama’s frustrated foreign policy is little more than aimlessness. His biggest decision to date has been Afghanistan.