All Silent on the Lefty Front
June 11, 2010
Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a 151-page report outlining the increasingly grim situation in Afghanistan. The paper highlighted the Afghan government (and its security services) lack of capability; the enduring challenge of endemic corruption and poor governance; and the Taliban insurgency’s ability to maintain influence—often via intimidation—across broad swaths of the country. These challenges have already undermined U.S. military operations in Marjah, and could threaten the upcoming summer offensive planned for Kandahar, the heart of the Taliban insurgency. The entire U.S.
Beyond the Line
June 11, 2010
In early April, silly flags were already flapping all around Beirut. A non-resident would think that dignitaries from the entire United Nations were about to make an appearance, adding a touch of color to our city. According to numerous sources, the flags had sprouted much earlier. As early as January, my sister made sure to tell me. I don’t think any earlier than that, my mother said. People were too busy with Christmas and New Years, and in 2009, Ashura, the Shiite holiday fell at the same time—far too much going on for anyone to concentrate.
June 10, 2010
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.
Dunga, Diego, and Destiny
June 10, 2010
The World Cup is but a couple of weeks away, and, if you are not trembling with anticipation, now is the time to start. There has never been a World Cup like the one about to take place in nine South African cities: For the first time ever, the greatest soccer tournament is being held in Africa.
June 09, 2010
Tel Aviv, Israel — There once was a very successful campaign in Israel for road safety. Its slogan was, “On the road, don’t be right, be smart." The day after the flotilla raid last week, more than one pundit in the Israeli press brought up the slogan. We’re right, they said, but why can’t we also be smart? The raid was by no means smart. Israel blindly stepped into a p.r. campaign orchestrated by Turkey and Hamas, doing enormous damage to its own international image and credibility. But the raid was not an isolated incident.
With Friends Like Us
June 08, 2010
Japan has a new prime minister, Naoto Kan, but he comes from the same party—the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)—as Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned last Wednesday. He will almost surely want to continue Hatoyama's policies of strengthening Japan’s political democracy and forging an independent foreign policy that is allied with the United States, but not subordinate to it. If Kan follows that course, he will undoubtedly displease much of Japan’s establishment, which still identifies with the defeated Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that Hatoyama's party trounced in last year's election.
President Obama wants it both ways. His dreary international initiative to put finis to nuclear arms is seen as so unlikely and so impossible that Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has already sent the atomic arms reduction treaty, negotiated with the American president, to the Russian parliament, where it has no chances of failure. Obama sent the document to the Senate earlier this month.
On Friday, John Heilprin of the AP reported that the Security Council voted unanimously (!) to “withdraw up to 2,000 peacekeeping troops [from the Congo] and redefine the remaining force as a ‘stabilization’ mission to coincide with [the celebration of the state’s] 50th anniversary of independence.” What there is to celebrate, it is hard to discern. And, as it happens, there isn’t much to stabilize either. The meaning of the unanimous vote, however, is very clear, despite the long and bitter behind-the-scenes argument that preceded it.
It's official now. You cannot use "Muslim extremism" or "Islamic terrorism." Not because the words don't describe a real phenomenon in the world. An ugly phenomenon. And, alas, an abundant phenomenon. But because the president doesn't like the thought. And he certainly doesn't like the religious adjective. I myself don't mind calling Jewish extremists "Jewish extremists." In fact, calling them Jewish extremists neatly separates the very few from the very many.
Four Columns Wide At The Boston Globe
May 25, 2010
The Globe often uses its news columns to reinforce its editorial page. As you know, the slowly expiring daily is hostile to Israel—very hostile. And its hostility is sustained by its simplicity, which is even more simple than that of its papa paper, The New York Times. All Israel has to do is vacate the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the lion will lie down with the lamb. Or the lamb with the lion.