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Israel on Edge

On U.S. Military Aid To Israel, Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You

July 14th 2016

Bibi Netanyahu with Glasses

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu professes to know America.

“I spent a significant part of my life in the United States. I studied there, I worked there, my beloved father taught there, and my English ain’t too bad either,” he told celebrants at a recent U.S. Independence Day event in Herzliya.

But in the context of the U.S. aid package that awaits his signature, he’s missing the point. While the English language hasn’t changed all that much, America has. So has Israel.
And that’s the problem.

The America he knew so well as a teenager in the mid-60s and from his college days in the mid-70s no longer views Israel as a fledgling and besieged state in existential need of support. Read more ..


The Battle for Afghanistan

Why Not Zero?

July 11th 2016

Afgan Troops

The Obama administration has announced that it will not cut the U.S. troop deployment in Afghanistan to 5,000 as planned, but will leave 8,400 soldiers to support the Afghan government in its fight against the Taliban.  President Obama said, "Compared to the 100,000 troops we once had there, today, fewer than 10,000 remain."

That is true, but why 8,400?  Why not 50,000?  Why not zero?

In making his announcement, President Obama said, "Even as we remain relentless against those who threaten us, we are no longer engaged in a major ground war in Afghanistan."  That's interesting, but exactly who in Afghanistan threatens the United States?  And how relentless can we be with 8,400 soldiers? Read more ..


Mideast Migrants on Edge

The Saudi Solution-- Accommodations are Plentiful in the Kingdom for Sunni Muslim Migrants

May 18th 2016

Daniel Pipes

As European governments slam the gates shut on illegal Middle Eastern immigrants, where can Syrians and others go, not far from their homelands, for safety and employment? The answer is obvious but surprisingly neglected: to Saudi Arabia and the other rich Arab sheikhdoms.

The more than 1 million migrants who boated, trained, bussed and walked to northern Europe in the past year overwhelmed the continent's capabilities and good will. Those large numbers were then exacerbated by crime and disease, an unwillingness to assimilate, a drive to impose Islamic laws, and such outrages as the Cologne taharrush (mass sexual assault) and the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

In reaction, populist and fascist parties (such as, respectively, the National Front in France and Jobbik in Hungary) gained strength. The European mood has so deeply shifted — as shown by the March elections in Germany — that much reduced numbers of illegals are likely to get in, no matter what new routes they try, such as via Italy.

This leaves huge numbers of would-be migrants wanting to enter Europe. A European Union (EU) commissioner, Johannes Hahn, counts "20 million refugees waiting at the doorstep of Europe. Ten to 12 million in Syria, 5 million Palestinians, 2 million Ukrainians and about 1 million in the southern Caucasus." Yes, but that's just a start; I also add vast numbers of Libyans, Egyptians, Yemenis, Iraqis, Iranians, Afghans and Pakistanis — and not just political refugees but also economic migrants. In all, the numbers of Muslim peoples ready to emigrate could potentially match the 510 million EU residents. Read more ..


Brazil on Edge

The Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil Must be the Beginning of a Deeper Reform

April 24th 2016

Broken country Brazil

On April 17, the Brazilian lower house of Congress voted by more than a two-thirds majority to impeach the current president, Dilma Rousseff.  The Senate will vote on the impeachment but contrary to the lower house, a simple majority would be enough to approve such impeachment.  If the Senate approves impeachment proceedings, Rousseff will have to step down transferring powers to her vice-president Michel Temer.  If she were absolved, she would remain in her position.

The rationale for her prosecution is that she violated fiscal rules by hiding the budget deficit and by illegally using money from state-owned banks at the time she was running for re-election.  The request to impeach her was signed by three judges, one of whom is a founder of the ruling Workers Party (PT), the party of President Rousseff. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Vice President Biden: ‘Overwhelmingly frustrated’ about the Mideast? How do you think Israelis feel?

April 20th 2016

joe biden

Vice President Biden, speaking at J Street a few days ago, voiced the Obama Administration’s “overwhelming frustration” — at Israel for the lack of Mideast peace.

Well, “frustration” seems to be the Middle East’s middle name these days. Has the Administration or the Media bothered to inquire about the “overwhelming frustration” of millions of displaced Syrians, ethnically cleansed Iraqi Christians, disappearing Yazidis, and dare we say it: the citizens of Israel.

Many Israelis are “overwhelmingly frustrated” by the world’s stony silence, as their fellow citizens were  literally being stabbed in the back by (primarily) young Palestinian terrorists.

They are "overwhelmingly" angered by a suicide bomber who failed to kill himself but who succeeded blowing up a Jerusalem bus and injuring 21 innocents at the height of rush hour. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Tribute to a Good Man -- Ben Carson

March 3rd 2016

Armstrong Williams Headshot

When it's all said and done, and the 2016 political season has come to an end – two things will have assuredly happened. First, we will have elected a new President of the United States. Second, the tone of electoral politics will have changed forever in the United States. Dr. Ben Carson, who announced yesterday that he would be suspending his campaign, has forever changed electoral politics in the United States for the better. He will be remembered as having run one of the most unique and – especially by contrast – dignified campaigns in presidential election history.

To be completely fair to Carson, he did not actively seek the role of presidential candidate; he was drafted into it. After his appearance at the National Prayer breakfast in 2013 (his second, making him and evangelist Billy Graham the only persons to be invited twice speak at the breakfast), in which he criticized so-called progressive policies and called them essentially un-Christian, many people took notice of Carson. The closer they looked, the more they like what they saw. A slow, gentle, but unmistakable mantra began to gather steam among Americans urging Carson to "Run Ben Run." This phrase echoed throughout Carson’s travels through America in the early months of 2014, as he visited cities and towns, speaking at churches, high schools and book signings. It began to take on real significance when a political action committee with the same name was formed.

Carson was initially surprised but appreciative of all of the accolades and encouragement he was receiving from all around the country.   He was already transitioning into a retirement after an illustrious medical career, and looking forward to devoting time to personal pursuits. But the clamor from those around the country who saw Carson as a 'Breath of Fresh Air' continued to encourage him and make him consider the fact that God had a plan for him beyond just retiring to a life of comfort and ease. Ever eager to obey and appear willing in the sight of God, Carson seriously considered the options. He ultimately let both his faith and his intellect guide his decision to take the risk and enter the presidential contest. Read more ..


The Race for Nuclear

America's Nuclear Power Plants Vulnerabilities

January 19th 2016

Nuclear Reactors

A year-long study found that the present legal and regulatory approach to EMP/Space weather threat to America's nuclear power plants are inadequate and dangerous. This sorry state is anchored in the industry efforts to maintain safety regulations dating back to the 1980s, and a national security mentality relevant at the end of the Cold War. This has been successful, in part, due to a campaign to brand nuclear power as a clean, safe source of energy. To their credit, the NRC and industry have demonstrated a commitment to safety where design basis events are concerned. However, EMP and GMD are beyond design basis events. Once these occur, there are no guarantees and few strategies with which to cope. Read more ..


Campus Hate

Divestment Movement Inspires Threats to Jewish Students

January 15th 2016

antiIsrael BDS demonstration

We may never know what motivated Faisal Mohammad's stabbing spree at UC Merced. We do know that whatever hatred filled his heart found expression in the brutal stabbing of innocent victims.

We also know that the freshman's rampage and the massive tragedy in San Bernardino, where one of the assailants did his undergraduate and graduate work at California State University as recently as 2014, have caused students across California to feel vulnerable.

This is particularly true for many Jewish students who are struggling with an escalation of hateful anti-Semitic acts at UC. This past fall, swastikas and "F--- Jews" were carved into multiple cars, and a female Jewish student was followed and harassed by a male member of the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine. Last year, swastikas were spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity, and "grout out the Jews" defaced the Hillel House at UC Davis; "Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber" was scrawled at UC Berkeley; fliers blaming Jews for 9/11 were posted at UC Santa Barbara, and a candidate for the UCLA student judicial board was challenged that her Jewishness rendered her ineligible.
Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Who Really Betrayed the Syrians?

December 13th 2015

Syria fighting injured baby

The Islamic State executed a series of devastating attacks in Paris last Friday night. President Obama responded angrily by delivering some effective precision-guided strikes. At the Islamic terrorist organization that murdered 129 and wounded hundreds of others in Paris? Of course not; he calmly described this atrocity as a mere "setback" in his successful efforts to contain IS and vowed to bring those guys "to justice." Instead, he directed his fusillade at Republicans, his favorite kinetic target.
 
At a time when French president Francois Hollande has been fixated on retaliating in Syria against Islamic State and arresting its followers in France and Belgium to prevent more terrorist attacks President Obama directed his attention, while traveling abroad no less, on partisan attacks. He blasted many Republicans - who, having seen that at least one of the Paris attackers apparently entered France as a Syrian refugee, are rightly wary of letting in thousands of Syrians into our country who can't realistically be vetted properly and could contain terrorists - of being weak, betraying American values, and emboldening the Islamic State. He accused Republicans of being "scared of widows and orphans," and portrayed declarations by Republican presidential candidates (viz. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Jeb Bush) that we should only allow in Christians as "offensive and contrary to American values" and a "potent recruitment tool" for the Islamic State.
 
This issue of whether to accept Syrian refugees is legitimate and requires proper, constructive debate. Some Republicans, such as commentator Charles Krauthammer, have suggested that perhaps only Syrian men be banned but women and children let in. Further, Elliott Abrams wrote here that American law dictates special treatment for persecuted religious minorities, which Christians are in Syria. Indeed, some Democrats agree with Republicans espousing these views, and some prominent Republicans disagree.
 
Beyond, the impropriety of Obama's attacks, they are especially galling, or chutzpadik - to borrow a word from a religious minority that two decades ago fled Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria thanks to the special help of the United States - it is Obama's Syria policy that has been weak, betrayed American values and emboldened the Islamic State.
 
President Obama has stood by and done virtually nothing while the Assad regime has slaughtered more than 250,000 Syrians and forced millions, more than half the country, from their homes. Standing by as such staggering carnage continues - with no interest even of establishing a no-fly safe zone - betrays American humanistic values fundamentally and dwarfs any concern over 10,000 refugees. Indeed, there would be far less a Syrian refugee crisis if the United States had set up such a zone. And the embodiment of weakness was Obama drawing a "red line" against use of chemical weapons in Syria and then refusing to enforce it. Only the catastrophic Iran deal, which all but ensures the emergence of a nuclear Iran, with international blessing no less, in fifteen years, if not sooner, marks a worse case of Obama's weakness, indeed the apex of it and the nadir of American credibility.
 
Further, Obama has done a great deal to facilitate IS recruitment. Not only has he waged a feeble, half-hearted battle ("war" would be too strong a word) against the Islamic States but he has de facto supported the Assad regime by choosing not to target its assets or even declare a no-fly zone to prevent it from dropping barrel bombs on civilians. He has denied real military support to moderate Syrian elements, driving opponents of the Assad regime into the arms of the only effective fighting force on the ground (outside the Kurdish areas): radical Islamist jihadi groups like IS. And he has ensured the further continuation of the sectarian death struggle between Sunni and Shia in Syria and Iraq by emboldening and enriching, via this summer's nuclear deal, Iran. The regime in Tehran, after all, represents the Shia version of the Islamic State, except it has, and will continue to expand, a robust nuclear program that poses an existential threat to our traditional Israeli and Arab allies. It funnels arms, weapons, training, and even battlefield support not just to Assad but also Hezbollah and the Shiite militias running rampant in Iraq and Syria. By cutting the nuclear deal and aligning with Iran, staying cozy with the Shia government in Baghdad, and distancing itself from America's traditional Sunni Arab allies, Obama has sent a signal to Sunnis in Iraq and Syria that we won't protect them, leading many to feel like their only choice is to embrace the Islamic State.
 
Obama's rhetoric post-Paris suggests little if any change in U.S. policy. He ruled out materially ratcheting up attacks against the Islamic State while Secretary Kerry appears intent on continued realignment toward Iran and perhaps Russia. This means more will continue to get killed in Syria and others elsewhere will be victimized by radical Shia and Sunni terror, marking a betrayal of our values and fundamental security and strategic interests.
 
So, it is Obama's destructive Syria (and Iran) policy that is so dangerous, not any Democratic or Republican rhetoric over Syrian refugees. The rhetoric and debate needs to refocus on changing that policy.

Michael Makovsky is CEO of JINSA, and a former Pentagon official in the Bush Administration.

Campus Hate

Should Your Child Go To A College Whose Faculty Supports The Anti-Semitic Boycott Against Israel?

December 1st 2015

UNH Campus

Many considerations go into the decision of where to attend college. Up until fairly recently, however, the comfort of being Jewish, and the atmosphere toward Israel, were not major factors. Today, however, with the alarming reports from students witnessing and experiencing anti-Semitism, and the attacks on Israel by not only students but faculty, parents and their children would be wise to investigate what is going on, and how the administrators are responding, before deciding on a college.

Nearly 5,000 professors around the world, half from the United States, support the anti-Semitic BDS movement and/or signed onto petitions or statements that exceeded the bounds of legitimate criticism of Israel. According to the leaders of the BDS campaign, Jews have no right to self-determination in their homeland, two-states for two people is not a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians and Israel should be destroyed. As Prof. As’ad AbuKhalil, a BDS proponent from California State University, Stanislaus, explained: “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” Read more ..


After the Holocaust

The Holocaust Museum Defends Muslim Brotherhood Nazis

October 28th 2015

Morsi

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was tainted from the start. 

Carter created the President’s Commission on the Holocaust to pander to the Jews after endorsing a PLO state. Then Carter complained that there were too many Jews on the Commission. One of the Jews he was complaining about was a Presbyterian with a German last name, but he was too bigoted to care.

The Museum hit a new low when the Clinton administration pressured its chairman to invite Arafat, a protégé of Hitler’s Mufti who had been trained to kill Jews by a former Nazi officer. It hit an even lower low when it brought in John K. Roth who had compared Israel to the Nazis. 

Now the Holocaust Memorial Museum has rolled out an "Early Warning Project" to warn of the risk of mass killings and genocide. Read more ..


The Automotive Edge

VM Tricks the World But Pays the Price

September 24th 2015

It went through the press like a thunderstorm: Volkswagen installed a software in its diesel engine controllers that detected when the car was under test. In such situations it reduced the harmful exhaust to the legal limit; otherwise it blew untenable many exhaust fumes into the air. The trick clearly was applied to circumvent the environmental legislation in the USA and other countries. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was forced to step back – but which effects will this revelation have?

It’s a shame for the German automotive industry that a honourable company like Volkswagen resorts to such means to better its position in the competition. There could be no other solution for Mr. Winterkorn than to step back. There is reason to fear that this dirty little trick has the potential to substantially damage the standing of the Volkswagen group, the diesel technology and the German automotive industry as a whole. Read more ..


After the Holocaust

Pondering Hitler's Legacy

September 1st 2015

Hitler

Happenstance has brought me today to a house on the Austria-Germany border, just south of Salzburg. That puts me about 3 miles from the German town of Berchtesgaden, on the German side of the border. Adolf Hitler's home, the Berghof, was just outside the town, on a mountain in the Bavarian Alps. To the extent that Hitler had a home, this was it, and it was the place where Hitler met with many notables, particularly before the war began.

As it happens, today is the 76th anniversary of the start of World War II in Europe. It is always a strange feeling to be here. There is a sense of history present here, but it is mostly a sense of the mind, since Berchtesgaden is an attractive but ordinary place. It always feels as if towns like this should have a patina of extraordinariness sticking to everything. But that isn't how history works. There is a patina of mind, but not of place. On Sept. 1 of any year since 1939, and at a place like this, there is a sense of urgency to extract the real meaning of the man who lived in a house on the mountain I am looking at. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Islamic State is Heading for Lebanon Next

August 22nd 2015

IS Caliphate victory parade

The Syrian regime's situation took a turn for the better when in May 2013, Hezbollah's infantry entered the conflict in full force in an attempt to conquer the city of Al-Qusayr, located between the Jussieh border crossing that separates northeast Lebanon from Syria and the Syrian city of Homs. Al-Qusayr was of great importance to Hezbollah, because it is on the road that leads from northern Lebanon deep into Syrian territory and was the site of much arms, weapons, ammunition, communications equipment and cash smuggling that came from the port of Tripoli and the Sunnis of northern Lebanon and reached the rebel forces.

The Syrian army did not succeed in conquering al-Qusayr, so the Iranian Revolutionary Guard command decided to bring in Hezbollah to free the town from anti-Assad rebels headed by the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al-Nusra. Hezbollah managed to win the tough battle that included house-to-house fighting, but it paid a hefty price with over one hundred of its fighters dead and at least double that number wounded. The rebels lost over two thousand fighters, of whom 1000 were killed and another 1000 taken prisoner by the Syrian Army while at least 2000 were wounded. The high number of rebel casualties is a result of the Syrian Air Force's intensive use of barrel bombs. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Release the Secret Iran Deals

August 5th 2015

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

For those of us who are elected officials, few votes will be more consequential than whether to approve or disapprove the nuclear agreement President Obama has reached with Iran. Yet the president expects Congress to cast this vote without the administration’s fully disclosing the contents of the deal to the American people. This is unacceptable and plainly violates the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act—a law the president signed only weeks ago.

During a recent trip to Vienna to meet with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization charged with verifying Iran’s compliance, we learned that certain elements of this deal are—and will remain—secret. According to the IAEA, those involved with the negotiations, including the Obama administration, agreed to allow Iran to forge the secret side deals with the IAEA on two issues. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

The Lawless Underpinnings of the Iran Nuclear Deal

July 27th 2015

Iran-US Hatred

The Iranian nuclear agreement announced on July 14 is unconstitutional, violates international law and features commitments that President Obama could not lawfully make. However, because of the way the deal was pushed through, the states may be able to derail it by enacting their own Iran sanctions legislation.

President Obama executed the nuclear deal as an executive agreement, not as a treaty. While presidents have used executive agreements to arrange less-important or temporary matters, significant international obligations have always been established through treaties, which require Senate consent by a two-thirds majority.

The Constitution's division of the treaty-making power between the president and Senate ensured that all major U.S. international undertakings enjoyed broad domestic support. It also enabled the states to make their voices heard through senators when considering treaties-which are constitutionally the "supreme law of the land" and pre-empt state laws. Read more ..


The World on Edge

The State of the World

July 21st 2015

Russian warships Sevastopol Crimea

The Cold War was a frozen conflict in one sense: The Soviet Union was contained in a line running from the North Cape of Norway to Pakistan. There was some movement, but relatively little. When the Soviet Union fell, two important things happened. First, a massive devolution occurred, freeing some formally independent states from domination by the Soviets and creating independent states within the former Soviet Union. As a result, a potentially unstable belt emerged between the Baltic and Black seas.

Meanwhile, along the southwestern border of the former Soviet Union, the demarcation line of the Cold War that generally cut through the Islamic world disappeared. Countries that were locked into place by the Cold War suddenly were able to move, and internal forces were set into motion that would, in due course, challenge the nation-states created after World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire that had been frozen by the Cold War. Read more ..


Iran's Nuke

Deeply Disappointment After Early Assessment Of Final Deal With Iran

July 14th 2015

Simurgh booster

We are deeply disappointed by the terms of the final deal with Iran announced today which seem to fall far short of the President’s objective of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state. The thrust of the deal relies entirely on Iran’s good faith and the ability of the IAEA to effectively carry out its inspection obligations.

While President Obama, Secretary Kerry, Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and the P5+1 negotiators invested a formidable amount of effort in securing a respite from the most  immediate threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, the JCPOA does not prevent it for the long term.  In ten years, Iran will be able to rapidly expand its enrichment capacity. Read more ..


Campus Hate

Who Should Define Anti-Semitism?

July 13th 2015

uc davis swastika door

“Anyone who does not recognize the Jewish people and the State of Israel — and their right to exist — is guilty of anti-Semitism”  - Pope Francis

"I think a good baseline [for when anti-Zionism becomes anti-Semitism] is: Do you think that Israel has a right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people…If your answer is no…then that is a problem” - President Barack Obama

"Criticism of Israel that is based on anti-Zionism — that’s anti-Semitism today, this is the refuge of those who do not accept the State of Israel” - French Minister Manuel Vall

"This is the face of the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable to a new generation... what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to exist, to defend itself while systematically ignoring, or excusing, the violence and oppression all around it?” - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Read more ..


Campus Jihad

Anti-Israel Venom Comes to High School Cirricula

July 2nd 2015

Education - Child at Blackboard

The poisonous propaganda against Israel on college campuses is spreading to our high schools.  Under the guise of “global education,” “peace studies,”  â€œCritical Thinking” or simply as part of world history, anti-Israel viewpoints have been curricularized and are being inserted into American public and private schools.   Much of this effort is supported by oil money from the Middle East, much of it created and disseminated by Leftist educational establishments in Middle East Studies Departments in Universities.  Anti-Israelism is now fully a part of the general effort to promote global citizenship, multiculturalism and the degradation of American exceptionalism.   

In April 2015, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) released a video documenting the biased work of a Boston University-- based group called Axis of Hope (AOH), which has now been fully incorporated into The Global Literacy Institute at BU’s School of Education. The AOH workshop, entitled “Whose Jerusalem?” has been conducted in many schools across the U.S., including in Weston High School in Massachusetts. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

Erdogan’s Fall From Grace

June 25th 2015

Erdogan

Turkish President Erdogan’s May 2013 plan to raze Gezi Park in Central Istanbul and replace it with a replica 19th century Ottoman barrack prompted anti-government protests in Istanbul and other cities across Turkey, which led to violent confrontations where the police used disproportionate force. Thousands of demonstrators were injured, and thousands more faced legal proceedings and lost their jobs. Some defendants were charged with terrorism offenses (many are still on trial) and many others spent up to 10 months in detention before being bailed out. I believe that the Gezi Park incident was a historic turning point marking the beginning of the end for Erdogan’s political fortunes. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

American Jewish Leaders Fail To Respond To Obama’s Threats

June 10th 2015

Obama-Limo

It is time to stop making excuses for American Jewish leaders and their failure to respond to U.S. President Barack Obama’s latest despicable efforts to turn the Jewish community against Israel. This time he employed a charm offensive, expressing “admiration” for Jews and “love” of Israel as a mantle to distort, malign and unashamedly employ double standards to cast moral aspersions on the sole democracy in the Middle East.

Obama is clearly determined to undermine the standing of the newly elected Israeli government by embarking on a campaign to promote an utterly fictional narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict, even in advance of the June 30 deadline of the “negotiations” with Iran.

He orchestrated interviews with journalists Jeffrey Goldberg and Tom Friedman, whom he uses regularly to convey his distaste for Israeli policies – and Ilana Dayan of Israel’s Channel 2 TV. Considered a tough investigative journalist, Dayan on this occasion, acted as though she were launching an Obama fan club. Read more ..


The Caliphate

As ISIS Brutalizes Women, a Pathetic Feminist Silence

June 9th 2015

IS Caliphate victory parade

Oh, how the feminist movement has lost its way. And the deafening silence over ISIS's latest brutal crimes makes that all too clear.

Fifty years ago, American women launched a liberation campaign for freedom and equality. We achieved a revolution in the Western world and created a vision for girls and women everywhere.

Second-wave feminism was an ideologically diverse movement that pioneered society's understanding of how women were disadvantaged economically, reproductively, politically, physically, psychologically and sexually.

Feminists had one standard of universal human rights — we were not cultural relativists — and we called misogyny by its rightful name no matter where we found it. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

An End to the 'Era of Oppression' in Turkey?

June 8th 2015

Erdogan

For the first time since his Islamist party won its first election victory in 2002, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was nowhere to be seen on election night. He did not make a victory speech. He did not, in fact, make any speech.

Not only failing to win the two-thirds majority it desired to change the constitution, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority and the ability to form a single-party government. It won 40.8% of the national vote and 258 seats, 19 short of the simple majority requirement of 276. Erdogan is now the lonely sultan at his $615 million, 1150-room presidential palace. For the first time since 2002, the opposition has more seats in parliament than the AKP: 292 seats to 258. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

Erdogan's Dream: The Sultan Rules

May 17th 2015

Erdogan

It is election time in Turkey. On June 7, the Turks will go to the ballot box to elect a government and a prime minister who will rule the country for four years.

In reality, they will go to the ballot box to decide whether they want an elected Sultan or not.

Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants more than just to win a parliamentary majority for his Justice and Development Party (AKP). He wants a two-thirds majority, so that the constitution can be amended to introduce an executive presidential system and the Sultan can once again officially rule.

In 2013, Burhan Kuzu, the AKP's chairman of the parliament's Constitution Commission, compared the U.S. presidency to the broad powers of Turkey's prime minister (who at the time was Erdogan), saying, "Obama is a poor man, the Prime Minister is powerful." Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Why Shiite Expansion Will Be Short-Lived

May 14th 2015

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

The sectarian conflict in the Middle East can neatly be divided into two sides: Sunnis and Shiites. Or so it would seem. The reality, it turns out, is more complicated. Sunni unity is a myth – the countries that constitute the Sunni camp are divided over a variety of issues. And the Shiites, whose power has grown since the early 1990s, nonetheless suffer from the inescapable constraints of being a minority population. Indeed, the single most defining characteristic of the Shiite camp is that it comprises only a fraction of the Muslim population. More than three-fourths of all Muslims practice Sunni Islam.

According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, only four countries have a Shiite majority: Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq. But other countries have notable Shiite minority populations as well, including Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. Shiites also form the largest confessional group in Lebanon and account for as much as 20 percent of the 180 million or so Muslims in India. Read more ..


Election 2016

A No-Win Situation for Hillary Clinton on Trade Issues

May 9th 2015

Hillary Clinton clearly isn’t bothered by the exhortations of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), but President Obama is — and the longer Obama indulges Clinton’s silence on trade, the more the presumed Democratic nominee for 2016 exacerbates her party’s food fight over the issue and, in Boehner’s view, embarrasses the president she served.

Perhaps the apocalypse is imminent, because Obama is working with Republican leaders on a major legacy push: passage of trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

As crunch time nears, Boehner says the president “needs her [Clinton’s] help” to grow a weak Democratic vote, now estimated at fewer than 20 members. Obama has shown an uncharacteristic interest in trying to sway hesitant Democrats in Congress to vote in favor of the trade deal, with promises to protect them against any political backlash. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Mother's Day Comes Again, and We're Still at War

May 9th 2015

After the carnage of the Second World War the members of the now defunct Victory Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers in St. Petersburg, Florida, knew better than most what it was to lose their sons, daughters, husbands and other near relatives in war. “We’d rather not talk about it,” one mother, whose son was killed in WWII, told the St. Petersburg Times fifteen years after the war ended. “It’s a terrible scar that never heals. We hope there will never be another war so no other mothers will have to go through this ordeal.” But thanks to our wars in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan –not to mention our proxy wars around the globe-- too many Moms (and Dads too) now have to mourn family members badly scarred or lost to wars dreamed up by the demagogic, ideological and myopic.

But every year brings our wonderful Mother’s Day. Few Americans know that Mother’s Day was initially suggested by two peace-minded mothers, Julia Ward Howe, a nineteenth century anti-slavery activist and suffragette who wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and Anna Reeves Jarvis, mother of eleven, who influenced Howe and once asked her fellow Appalachian townspeople, badly polarized by the Civil War, to remain neutral and help nurse the wounded on both sides. Read more ..


Financing the Flames

Breaking the Silence - Questions the Media is not Asking

May 6th 2015

Israeli soldier emerges from Hamas tunnel

I’ve been asked a few times about the “Breaking the Silence” report that is currently being played up by the international press, as is any report that fits the narrative of Israelis as war criminals. (Contradictory reports, like the recent one I posted here from two US military experts, are not considered news.) I hope that most intelligent people have stopped taking international press coverage of Israel too seriously. But there are a few things that are important to understand.

1. War is awful and people come back feeling upset about things they’ve seen and done. Some observers are reliable, and others aren’t. Some of the things described in the report no doubt happened as they were described. Others didn’t. Infantrymen at the bottom of the hierarchy often don’t understand what they’re seeing, or the reasons for what they’re doing, and I’m speaking from experience.

Read more ..

Islam on Edge

Why Can't Muslims Laugh at Mohammed?

May 5th 2015

Jacob blesses Manasseh and Ephraim

In Mel Brooks' comedy History of the World Part I, Moses is shown descending from Mount Sinai with three stone tablets in hand. As he declares, "I give you the Fifteen Commandments," one falls and breaks, and Moses corrects himself, "er, Ten Commandments."

Jews, including the observant, find this funny rather than offensive. As we learned once again in Garland, Texas, Muslims do not laugh at jokes about Mohammed, the purported author of the Koran (as Moses is the author of the Torah). Two wannabe Jihadists with assault rifles and body armor were no match for an off-duty Texas traffic cop with a sidearm, but the incident might have turned into a massacre worse than the murder of the Charlie Hebdo staff in January.

Why do Jews as well as Christians–but not Muslims–laugh at jokes about the founders of their faiths? Read more ..


The Way We Are

Are Men the Weaker Sex?

May 3rd 2015

Baby Boomer

We can, thankfully, remove one threat to the future existence of the human male from our worry list: The male Y chromosome, after dwindling from its original robust size over millions of years, apparently has halted its disappearing act.

But don’t start cheering yet. Contrary to cultural assumptions that boys are stronger and sturdier, basic biological weaknesses are built into the male of our species. These frailties leave them more vulnerable than girls to life’s hazards, including environmental pollutants such as insecticides, lead and plasticizers that target their brains or hormones. Several studies suggest that boys are harmed in some ways by these chemical exposures that girls are not. It’s man’s fate, so to speak. Read more ..


Broken Government

Obamacare Subsidies Need some Sunshine

April 29th 2015

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has a simple question: How and why did Congress qualify as a "small business" eligible for special taxpayer subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? For anyone in a real small business — private employers who get no such subsidies — the very idea is absurd. But getting a straight answer is as difficult as getting Lois Lerner's IRS emails.

In search of answers, Vitter proposed subpoenaing documents from the District of Columbia Health Benefits Exchange Authority. But his colleagues on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee recently voted (14 to five) to block the effort. They've tried to justify their lack of curiosity by calling the proposed subpoena an unnecessary "distraction" or an invitation to a "protracted" legal fight. But these are rather obviously lame excuses. Read more ..


The 2016 Vote

The Choices Ahead for Hillary Rodham Clinton

April 27th 2015

With Hillary Clinton’s formal declaration that she is running for president, there has been a great deal of chatter from within her party that she is not liberal enough.

She needs to move left, some Democratic voices say.

Clinton, of course, lost the nomination to then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in 2008 because he got to her left and dominated the caucus states, where the base of the party has disproportionate influence.
By the time Clinton’s team seemed to realize what was happening, Obama had an insurmountable lead.

Could this occur again?

It seems unlikely. But even that is not the real story.

The real story is just how far left the Democratic Party has moved. Does Hillary move with it?

Just consider these facts and positions.

The Obama presidency has been built on the theme of class warfare. Read more ..


Greece on Edge

The 'Grexit' Issue and the Problem of Free Trade

April 21st 2015

Greek and EU flags

The Greek crisis is moving toward a climax. The issue is actually quite simple. The Greek government owes a great deal of money to European institutions and the International Monetary Fund. It has accumulated this debt over time, but it has become increasingly difficult for Greece to meet its payments. If Greece doesn't meet these payments, the IMF and European institutions have said they will not extend any more loans to Greece. Greece must make a calculation. If it pays the loans on time and receives additional funding, will it be better off than not paying the loans and being cut off from more?

Obviously, the question is more complex. It is not clear that if the Greeks refuse to pay, they will be cut off from further loans. First, the other side might be bluffing, as it has in the past. Second, if they do pay the next round, and they do get the next tranche of funding, is this simply kicking the can down the road? Does it solve Greece's underlying problem, which is that its debt structure is unsustainable? In a world that contains Argentina and American Airlines, we have learned that bankruptcy and lack of access to credit markets do not necessarily go hand in hand. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

Turkey's "Sun of the Age"

April 10th 2015

Turk flags

Turkey is probably one of the best social laboratories in the world to prove why Islamist ideology cannot be compatible with a culture of humor, dissent and protest. It also offers a unique experience that shows how Islamists can even violate one of their religion's most fundamental teachings for the sake of worshipping a leader's cult of personality.

At a parliamentary session in February, Turkish deputies gathered to debate a controversial security bill. Instead of debate, a brawl broke out. The session ended after five MPs were taken to the hospital.

That bill, sponsored by the government but fiercely rebuked by the opposition, has just taken effect, adding to fears that Turkey is fast becoming a police state. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Emails and Hillary: The Private Deceptions of a Public Servant

April 9th 2015

Hillary Clinton

It looks like the convenient device theory Hillary Clinton has used to deflect inquiries as to why she used her private email account almost exclusively to conduct official business while serving as Secretary of State is a bunch of pure hogwash. It has become evident that in addition to her personal phone, she also used an I-pad connected to her personal email account to send and receive information related to her official duties. The story emerging from this strange and unprecedented breach of protocol, if not law and regulation, is that Hilary’s email shenanigans appear to be part of a deliberate attempt to withhold her communications from public – and partisan – scrutiny.

While the Clinton machine is ever so skilled at deflecting the core issues and focusing the media discussion on the irrelevant matter of personal convenience, she may have just been caught in her own web of deception. Not only do recently disclosed email communications indicate that Clinton used multiple devices, but they also show that at least on one occasion she replied to an official email with personal information. The implication here couldn’t be clearer. What is the likelihood that she also replied to personal communications with ‘official’ and possibly classified and sensitive information? Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Russia Nervously Eyes the U.S.-Iran Deal

April 7th 2015

Iran Missiles

When a group of weary diplomats announced a framework for an Iranian nuclear accord last week in Lausanne, there was one diplomat in the mix whose feigned enthusiasm was hard to miss. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left the talks at their most critical point March 30, much to the annoyance of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who apparently had to call him personally to persuade him to return. Even as Lavrov spoke positively to journalists about the negotiations throughout the week, he still seemed to have better things to do than pull all-nighters for a deal that effectively gives the United States one less problem to worry about in the Middle East and a greater capacity to focus on the Russian periphery. Read more ..


Vote 2016

The Poverty of Identity Politics

April 2nd 2015

Armstrong_Williams

Imagine if the current President were a Republican, and if during the second half of his second term, after having been elected both times with record turnout by blacks, the black unemployment rate remained stagnant at 11 percent while the black poverty rate hit a record high of 27 percent. What would black politicians be saying about that Republican President?

We don’t really need to answer that question, do we? But for arguments sake, let’s imagine that almost seven years after the great recession the country was basically back to work, with an official unemployment rate haven fallen from almost ten percent at its’ height to around 5.5 percent (let’s save the argument about the real rate for another debate), while again the black community, which had overwhelmingly supported the Republican President (again let’s suspend belief for a moment) was experiencing rising poverty rates.

Furthermore imagine if under a Republican President there was a virtual epidemic of incidents of police brutality in predominantly black neighborhoods.   Record civil settlements over police brutality claims were paid out by the City of New York. And yet not one police officer was ever brought to trial in any of the incidents. Furthermore, despite a bunch of official hoopla, the Federal Government did not see fit to step in and bring civil rights lawsuits. What do you think the reaction of so-called black leaders would be?

Let’s take this a bit further. Let’s say that black unemployment was in fact highest in the cities with the most conservative Republican Mayors, like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland (stay with me here). What if in Chicago, the Presidents’ home town, his right hand man had carpet-bagged his way to a mayoral win mostly on the backs of the black supporters of the President? Let’s imagine for a moment that in that town, under the President’s hand-picked Mayor, the black murder rate were to spiral to almost genocidal proportions. How do you think the Black leadership would respond to such a situation. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

The U.N.’s War on Israel

April 1st 2015

UN HQ NYC

The United Nations is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It was intended to be a temple of peace, but this once great global body has been overrun by the repressive regimes that violate human rights and undermine international security.

In 1949, when the United Nations admitted Israel as a member state, it had 58 member countries and about half had a democratic orientation. Today, the landscape of the organization has changed drastically. From 51 member states at its founding in 1945, the institution has grown to 193 members — fewer than half of which are democracies.

The very nations that deny democratic rights to their people abuse the United Nations’ democratic forums to advance their interests. The largest of these groups comprises members from the 120-member-strong bloc known as the Non-Aligned Movement. Since 2012, the bloc has been chaired by Iran, which has used its position to bolster its allies and marginalize Israel. Read more ..


China on Edge

Financial Chinoiserie

March 31st 2015

Chinese currency

A most peculiar crisis is developing for the Chinese economy - and, indeed, for the regime -- while the world's attention is riveted on the chaos and terror in the Mideast and Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Not the smallest element is the clever manipulation by Beijing's strategists of the world's hopes for continued remarkable Chinese growth as a last call instrument to bail out a dawdling world economy.

That misapprehension of China's economic capacities may well forestall, again, at least for a time, an inevitable coming to grips with basic problems of it vast society under the Communist Party monopoly. But there is growing evidence that China's financial problems have reached a crescendo that Beijing can no longer manage.

In that marvelous game of speculation on one of the world's oldest cultures, I have always joked that the Chinese have two "extra" genes to others' DNA: one is an inordinate capacity for hospitality, and the other for unlimited risk at gambling. Both are in full flower at the moment. Read more ..



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