September 18 is the date when the Scottish will vote to decide the future of their country. The stakes are high. Prime Minister David Cameron will be left “heartbroken” if Scotland chooses to be independent. To encourage Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom, David Cameron is willing to offer Glasgow 500m British Pounds (roughly $850m).
When the bodies of three Israeli settlers – Aftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 – were found on June 30 near Hebron in the southern West Bank, Israel went into a state of mourning and a wave of sympathy flowed in from around the world. The three had disappeared 18 days earlier in circumstances that remain unclear.
Every year in July, the memories of the Srebrenica Massacre swell anew and bring tears to not just Bosniaks but anyone who has even an ounce of humanity left in him/her. Years go by, debates keep happening, and we keep telling ourselves that humanity is not yet dead. Between 1992 and 1995, over 100,000 innocent civilians of Bosnia lost their lives. In the town of Srebrenica, nearly 8,000 Muslims were massacred between July 11 and 13 in the year 1995.
Bombs are raining on Gaza and rockets on Southern Israel, people are dying and homes are being destroyed. Again. Again without any purpose. Again with the certainty that after it’s all over, everything will essentially be the same as it was before. But I can hardly hear the sirens which warn of rockets coming towards Tel Aviv. I cannot take my mind off the awful thing that happened in Jerusalem.
As Iraq stands on the verge of a complete breakdown into mini sectarian states, former leading neoconservative and Iraq war advocate Richard Perle made a sudden appearance on Newsmax TV. His statements in the interview were yet another testament to the intellectual degeneration of a group that had once promised a ‘new Middle East,’ only to destabilize the region with violent consequences that continue to reverberate until this day.
If fireworks are the quintessential trademark of the way Americans celebrate 4th of July, the Israel Defense Force “celebrated” in their own special way: stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. Despite being the biggest U.S. ally in the region, Israel was not expected to exercise restraints when aggrieved Palestinian protesters pelted them with rocks giving rise to the chance of third intifada.
The Arab world is in turmoil. Syria and Iraq are breaking apart, the thousand-year old conflict between Muslim Sunnis and Muslim Shiites is reaching a new climax. A historic drama is unfolding around us. And what is the reaction of our government? Benjamin Netanyahu put it succinctly: “We must defend Israel on the Jordan River, before they reach Tel Aviv.” Simple, concise, idiotic.
My memories of the judicial system in New York City in the 1990s evoke blistering summers of relentless heat blasting you in the face as you step outside the cool marble buildings in Manhattan. Although I have fond memories of the locale, lunchtime in the Chambers Street neighborhood, which abuts Chinatown with delicious Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese restaurants and dessert in Little Italy and although virtually all the court buildings are marble and the courtrooms themselves are air-conditioned, I hope to never tread those corridors again.
One side’s terrorists are the other side’s freedom fighters. That is not simply a matter of terminology. It is a difference of perception, which has far-reaching practical consequences. Take prisoners, for example. For the freedom fighter, achieving the release of imprisoned comrades is a sacred duty, for which he is ready to sacrifice his life.
Ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, Mohan—my younger brother is a changed man. Previously, I never saw him so animated about anything, he just plodded along, did his work, and took care of his small family. But right after the recent general elections, when it became clear that Mr. Modi would be the undisputed leader of the largest democracy in the world, Mohan’s demeanor has undergone a drastic change. He became more animated, more vocal, and more optimistic.
If there is a God, he surely has a sense of humor. The career of Shimon Peres, who is about to finish his term as president of Israel, is clear evidence. Here is a life-long politician, who has never won an election. Here is the world-renowned Man of Peace, who has started several wars and never done anything for peace. Here is the most popular political figure in Israel who for most of his life was hated and despised.
From the inability to speak with one voice, a lack of shared norms, and being chronically conflict prone, one must wonder how the Arab League has managed to exist for as long as it has. Suspending, then either reinventing or dissolving the Arab League seems to be the best route in addressing future conflicts within the region.
For a few years now, Turkey has been engaged in a delicate balance between the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. Ankara has not wanted to anger Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki by implying support for an independent – rather than autonomous – Iraqi Kurdistan, and Turkey has never been interested in such an outcome anyway because of the incentives it would create for Turkish Kurds to push harder for their own independent state.
This past month, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study and visit with officials from both the German government and various branches of the European Union in Brussels. None of this would have been possible without the help of a few people. First, Old Dominion University arranged and offered a great deal of support for the trip. Second, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation provided both a theoretical and physical base for the Berlin leg of the trip. Third, John Callahan of the Ambassador Club made a healthy contribution with a visit and tour of the Battlefield at Waterloo. It was a fantastic ten day trip that, for me, was another step in a study of the European Union that I began over a year ago.
Now that the dust has settled from the recent elections for the European Parliament it is time to take a deep breath and see what really happened. No, Britain is not about to toss its immigrant population into the sea. No, France’s Marine Le Pen is not about to march on the Elysee Palace. And, as repulsive as the thugs of Hungary’s Jobbik Party and Greece’s New Dawn are, it was the continent’s left to whom the laurels went in last month’s poll.