Monday, September 3rd, 2018
Trump the Shibboleth Marauder: On August 31st, the State Department announced that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNWRA, the UN agency that has served to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Monday, August 20th, 2018
David P. Goldman has been predicting this for years, and now it is happening (nudged along by Trump’s new steel tariffs): Turkey is in a horrible mess and likely to become a Chinese satrapy.
Contrast with George Friedman’s notion that Turkey will become a superpower, which to me seems comically misguided.
That said, Turkey does seem a fulcrum power, a bellweather of who dominates global affairs; if it falls to China’s influence, this is not great for the West.
To me, with my limited exposure to Turkey, the fundamental problem is that as a people are misguidedly unsatisfied with being a nationstate. Instead, they want to be the local imperium, which cannot be. Turks, I say: apply your justified satisfaction with quotidian life to the national level. That way you will indeed make friends and influence peoples.
Look to Britain for this, which once ruled much more than the Ottomans, but harbors no hopeless dreams to revive a moment in history.
Perhaps not coincidentally, both countries are currently in some danger of a secessionist crack-up.
Sunday, August 19th, 2018
On nationalism old and new. In Tablet, the prophetic columnist David P. Goldman discusses Yoram Hazony’s new book The Virtue of Nationalism.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2018
“Shouting ‘Peace, peace’ may actually push peace away,” argues game theorist and Nobel Economics laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann, New York-born head of the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at Hebrew University.
This is just about common sense — by that I mean it’s only a single twist of what Edward Luttwak calls the paradoxical logic of strategy. Yet perhaps there are further twists; I suggested one back in 2003 in “Allah Help the Jackals”:
Perhaps Israel is following a subconscious national strategy of the strong, in which it behaves too meekly for a decade or so, emboldens its vicious but feeble enemies until they go too far, then lashes out in a now-obviously-justifiable response and gains untold assets in the process.
Not to mention that the more time goes by, the more Israel strengthens and the Palestinians weaken.
This subconscious national strategy of delay by dint of wanting too hard, if it ever were effective, seems to have played itself out now, as demonstrated by Israel’s shift of focus towards undermining UNWRA, which plays such an underlying role in prolonging the conflict.
What with the Sunni warming to Israel and the supremely sympathetic Trump Administration, Israel it seems believes that allowing the conflict to fester for gradual gain has now become counterproductive, and so seeks a new path to end it.
All that notwithstanding, nothing ends until the Palestinians begin educating their children towards co-existence alongside Israel.
Tuesday, May 29th, 2018
Newsweek excerpts Ronen Bergman’s upcoming book about the Mossad, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations. The chapter recounts an Egyptian missile program being developed by ex-Nazi engineers (comic-book nefarious!).
After failing to subvert it with mail bombs and intimidation, Israel recruited a high-living Hitler favorite and produced enough evidence — echoes of Netanyahu’s recent evidence cache on Iran’s nuclear program — to persuade the German government to take benign steps to intervene and halt the program.
The institutional fallout included Isser Harel’s ouster, the IDF coming in to rebuild, and it seems the resignation of Ben-Gurion himself.
Sunday, May 20th, 2018
Caroline Glick praises the genius of Trump’s recognition of Israel’s capital. I’d go further: its most important function is as the crowning piece of pressure on the Palestinians to finally strike a deal with Israel and end the existential conflict; it transforms East Jerusalem from a given they have pocketed into a prize they can win.
What a bonanza it will be when the Palestinians, like the surrounding Arab nations, finally acknowledge they are licked, and accept what they can get from intense genuine negotiations. There should be little shame in admitting defeat — after all, the combined armies of the Arab nations repeatedly failed to defeat Israel. The ideal models here are Japan and Germany, which, after defeat by the United States and the Allies, reconstituted themselves, moved on, and with their national genius become formidable in their own realms. The Palestinians too can become formidable, well positioned to become at very least the eternal prospering middlemen between powerful Israel and the wider Middle East.
70 years after independence, Israel is flourishing in nationhood and statecraft, with a burgeoning birthrate, economy, set of alliances; it has likely possessed nuclear weaponry since 1963, an ICBM global delivery system since 2008. Indeed, Israel under-projects its power; David Goldman accurately coined her a “pocket superpower”. All this means that as Israel strengthens and they weaken, the longer the Palestinians continue to hold off the less they will eventually get.
Up to now, the only pressure the Palestinians faced to encourage them to make a deal was Israeli settlements in the West Bank, bargaining chips being built in front of their eyes. Now under Trump, the USA has changed its approach and added its own diplomatic pressure to bear — epitomized by the Jerusalem recognition. More fundamentally, the region has changed; the Palestinians’ traditional patrons and enablers — Egypt and Saudi Arabia — have at the very least lost interest in their perpetual campaign against Israel.
This sea-change will hopefully lead the next generation of Palestinian leadership to realize that there is no longer any benefit to holding out (not that there ever was) and succeed in conveying this to the people. Here’s hoping, and to fruitful and harmonious דו-קיום (co-existence) sooner than we think possible.
Wednesday, May 9th, 2018
In the wake of America’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, an Israel-Iran war is unlikely but still…
Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
Ehud Yaari in The American Interest: “Israeli inaction came face-to-face with Iranian proactivity, and Israel now finds itself counting its losses even as the Syrian war winds down.” It seems we have been fighting the last war.
Sunday, April 1st, 2018
Michael Rubin at aei.org: Yes, Turkey has definitely become a rogue regime.
From my brief travels I came across the standard blue/red divide, but it’s more virulent in Turkey due to the revolutionary power of the local religion.
Friday, March 30th, 2018
Thursday, March 22nd, 2018
It’s a bolt from the red, white and blue: John Bolton is to be National Security Advisor.
Wednesday, March 21st, 2018
In the wake of the White House conference on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which the Palestinians did not attend, Noah Feldman masterfully lays out the land regarding Jared Kushner’s diplomatic push between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Noah on Abbas’s leverage: “In the end, the Arab states can’t actually sign a peace agreement without a Palestinian state signing it, too.”
11 years on, Israel’s military censor is permitting interviews with participants in the attack on Syria’s clandestine nuclear facility.
Sunday, March 4th, 2018
Everything for the ride, the game, the thrill, perhaps the rugs. Paul Manafort, American Hustler in The Atlantic.
Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
In “Syria – From a State to a Hybrid System: Implications for Israel” by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), authors Carmit Valensi, Udi Dekel and Anat Kurz write: “The problem can be managed but no solution can be expected … Syria will not revert to what it was … By means of coordinating with third parties, Israel will be able to influence trends…”
Monday, January 22nd, 2018
For 42 minutes Walter Russell Mead [transcript] puts not a sentence, not a word out of place — let alone an idea — in discussing the first year of the Trump presidency.
WRM is interviewed by Susan Glasser at The Global Politico [podcast] mainly through the prism of his book Special Providence, which divides American foreign policy into four schools: Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Wilsonian and Jacksonian.
Thursday, January 18th, 2018
Next step in the Trump strategy for wrapping up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: US cuts payments to UNRWA by about half.
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018
The next step in the Trump shibboleth-marauding strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal appears to have just happened: The President has threatened the Palestinians with withholding aid if they continue to refuse to come to the negotiating table.
These were merely tweets, a new lower level of presidential statement, but nonetheless they’re another demonstration to the Palestinians that they do in fact have things to lose by maintaining the conflict indefinitely. It seems a softening up before negotiations begin so that this time they will finally actually end with a deal.
Saturday, December 30th, 2017
In Mosaic, Martin Kramer tells the tale, set over lunch in Ein Kerem, of the closest Jerusalem ever got to internationalization. (At one point I found the internationalization of Jerusalem a heady and exciting notion—providing of course that the UN move its HQ there.) A most vivid history op-ed piece.
Monday, December 18th, 2017
This investigative piece by Josh Meyer in Politico depicts a DEA investigation into global Hezballah criminal activity undercut by an Obama Administration hell-bent on a deal with Iran.
Monday, December 11th, 2017
There has never been a West European post-Second World War policy in [the Middle East] except to await the American position and then stake out something more favourable to the Arabs.
Also Abraham Ben-Zvi briefly compares Trump’s defiance of his own government regarding Israel to that of Truman and Kennedy, rather propelling The Donald into the pantheon.
Marcus Pretzell is one German member of the EU Parliament who supports the declaration and says other do too but fear to speak up.
Finally, Rashid Khalidi’s response illustrates the unhappy thrashings-about of the opposing side.
Thursday, December 7th, 2017
On the eve of US recognition of Israel’s capital, very much in-the-loop Ambassador Ron Dermer speaks (three paragraphs at a time!) to the Global Politico podcast.
Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
Ivan Rogers, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU during David Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister, speaks to the events leading up to the Brexit referendum. There’s so much detail, and we see where Cameron was succeeding, but nonetheless a failure happened here.
Sunday, September 10th, 2017
As the weaker party, an itchy trigger finger makes sense for North Korea, argues this MIT-based expert.
Tuesday, September 5th, 2017
Ever the definite optimist (to use Peter Thiel’s chart), Henry Kissinger argues that the North Korean crisis is an opportunity for the USA and China to get to know each other better as their deep cooperation is the only way to solve the issue. His basic position: China allows reunification, USA and Korea keep the north demilitarized. Unfortunately his can-do spirit (when Charlie Rose asks if he’s “optimistic”, he demurs and says he’s “hopeful”) is, it seems, suddenly of a bygone era.
Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
This long magazine piece on the revolution in Washington lobbying affairs in the wake of Trump reads like a great fun tv show.
From Dore Gold’s JCPA: The Jews are among the oldest of indigenous peoples.
Friday, August 18th, 2017
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
InspireConversation is the parenting blog of, together with his wife, Jason Greenblatt. He is the presidential envoy who accompanied Israel’s Head of Security Services to Jordan to defuse the recent Israeli embassy crisis there.
Monday, July 3rd, 2017
Efraim Inbar provides the background to the hugely significant first-time-ever visit to Israel by an Indian Prime Minister.
Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
The Dispensability of Allies by George Friedman — probably the only required reading on President Trump’s upcoming visit to the Middle East, even if it is rather dismal.
Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
George Friedman, founder of Stratfor, explicates the constituent parts of Trump’s foreign policy views — for instance, that multiple bilateral agreements are preferable to multilateral ones (something Israel has always stuck to). Someone recently noted that you can’t point to any particular Washington thinktank and say that this is where Trump gets his views. This might have been meant disparagingly, but it also suggests that the new President has actually been thinking. Indeed, Friedman writes elsewhere that this more general level of thought is the most salutary for a successful presidency.
Albeit behind Iran, Israel squeaks onto Walter Russell Mead’s list of the Great Eight Powers of 2017. It’s amazing that only one European country makes it here.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
The world’s most (only?) prescient columnist takes a step back to show us where Russia and China are similar and different to America. This article is one for these new times, to be sure.
Saturday, December 17th, 2016
The New York Times attempts to embarrass Trump’s new appointment by linking to eight of incoming American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s columns in Arutz Sheva as if his words alone are enough to horrify. I for one though agree with everything he writes in these, except perhaps in “Time to Regroup on Iran” where he suggests hitting Hamas harder — not sure about that. I’m with him on J Street, and there’s great stuff on what he dubs the two-state narrative.
Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
Niall Ferguson on Kissinger on the Obama legacy and Trump prospects. Long, juicy, probably somewhat prescient, also a bit nutty.
Tuesday, October 4th, 2016
New British prime minister Theresa May’s first major decision was the nuclear plant at Hinckley Point and it seems she took the easy way out.
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
In Commentary Magazine Lazar Bergman summarizes Netanyahu’s cautious, patient geopolitical successes. And in the same issue, this more biographical piece by Seth Mandel.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
On “the Weimar aspect of our current moment”: I haven’t read Andrew Sullivan for a long time, but he seems to be hitting it here, Democracies end when they are too democratic, in New York magazine.
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
“The real story of this election is that after several decades, American democracy is finally responding to the rise of inequality and the economic stagnation experienced by most of the population,” writes Francis Fukuyama in Foreign Affairs [requires free registration].
Friday, June 17th, 2016
As part of a series of articles on Israel in Foreign Affairs, Aluf Benn worries from the center-Left about crumbling social and political norms while Martin Kramer expresses satisfaction about ever-strengthening strategic might [requires registration, only 1 free article].
Friday, February 19th, 2016
In the wake of what seems to this layman to be unwisely tepid Western support, the Kurds of Iraq are building a relationship with Iran.
Monday, January 4th, 2016
Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran for the first time since 1989–92. Sudan follows. Blimey.
Sunday, January 3rd, 2016
Who is the enemy to engage, Iran or ISIS? Lee Smith has an answer: Iran, because you can’t defeat ISIS without the Sunnis on board, and you can’t get Sunnis on board against ISIS until you demonstrably tamp down Iran.
Monday, November 9th, 2015
An excerpt from Dennis Ross’s book about US-Israel relations. This all seems believable, and fascinating as well.
Friday, October 23rd, 2015
Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, talks to Die Zeit about Germany’s own debt relief and the proper way forward now.
The latest Troika loan package is an “exact repeat of the self-defeating policy that caused Greek debt dynamics to spin out of control in the last two…” rues this astute, outraged commentator. What with the Iran deal as well, we seem these last couple of days to be watching the West’s self-immolation.
Tuesday, March 17th, 2015