Earlier posts have criticized President Obama for his minimalist foreign policy vision (here and here) and lack of leadership skills. But it’s also worth noting that some of his multiplying problems overseas have to do with his aloof personality and inability to forge strong personal relationships with international counterparts.
It has become quite obvious to observers of the Middle East that the analysis of the region in the Western media has been deeply flawed and largely misguided. The focus of most articles until recently was on democracy, human rights and the peace process. Recent events have unmasked the irrelevance of any of those terms to the real forces in motion in the Middle East. As a result, reporting and analysis have correspondingly changed to an emphasis on sectarian warfare and terrorism. American newsreaders are now regularly informed as to the Shiite-Sunni cleavage and its violent ramifications. This is a step in the right direction but the new emphasis promises to lead to equally misleading analysis and equally faulty American foreign policy.
There was this village in England which took great pride in its archery. In every yard there stood a large target board showing the skills of its owner. On one of these boards every single arrow had hit a bull’s eye. A curious visitor asked the owner: how is this possible? The reply: “Simple. First I shoot the arrows, and then I draw the circles around them.”
I’ve been purposely keeping quiet as Operation Protective Edge rages on, which for someone who writes about Israel seems like a counterproductive move. The problem is, I have seen very little to convince me that writing anything will actually be productive in a real sense because everyone is living in a bubble. I have rarely been so disheartened by anything as much as I have by reading what friends and acquaintances are expressing as Israel and Hamas go at each other. My Facebook feed is a good illustration of this, being split between very different demographics.
Those who were not familiar with the national airlines carrier of Malaysia certainly know it now. Last March MH370 is believed to have disappeared mysteriously in the Southern Ocean off the coast of Australia, and last week MH17, flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, was allegedly shot down by pro-Russian rebels over Ukraine and is now scattered over bloodied sunflower fields.
In the war, both sides have the same aim: to put an end to the situation that existed before it started. To put an end to the launching of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, Once and For All! To put an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt, Once And For All!
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.