Tuesday, March 29th, 2022
Niall Ferguson’s important and much-quoted Bloomberg piece of March 22nd on the cynical/optimistic Biden strategy for Ukraine:
It is, when you come to think of it, archetypal Realpolitik to allow the carnage in Ukraine to continue; to sit back and watch the heroic Ukrainians “bleed Russia dry”; to think of the conflict as a mere sub-plot in Cold War II, a struggle in which China is our real opponent. … The optimism, however, is the assumption that allowing the war to keep going will necessarily undermine Putin’s position; and that his humiliation in turn will serve as a deterrent to China. I fear these assumptions may be badly wrong and reflect a misunderstanding of the relevant history.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2022
This is the first time the Saudi crown prince has publicly referred to Israel as a “potential ally.” He also spoke about Iran in a different tone. In an Atlantic interview four years ago, Bin Salman compared Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to “Hitler” and said Iran was leading the “axis of evil.” This time such talk was replaced by calling the Iranians “neighbors” of Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday, March 1st, 2022
Russia, as parlance goes, is too big to fail; we need to forge it an off-ramp from this horrific self-inflicted disaster, as Commentary’s Noah Rothman argues in “What if Russia loses”, Sam Altman of YCombinator tweets, and presumably plenty of other smart people are saying.
Putin though is probably not quite ready to take it, thinking he may yet regain the military upper hand, as attested by the lengthy convoys headed today to Kyiv. He may then as Putin biographer Anita Hill fears, savvily offer the delectable compromise of partitioning Ukraine, wherein he gets the east and others can divvy up the rest. Joe Biden has after all a predilection for territorial break-up — he thought it right for Iraq.
Fortunately it seems we are well beyond Europe countenancing such temptations; Germany has reoriented around the danger emanating from Russia, the UK is acting on what it called it “a catastrophe on our continent” [emphasis mine], and a myriad of surprising others are joining the fray each in their way (Switzerland, Finland, etc).
Also, it does seem self-evident that Vlad the Mad has lost some of the faculties he’s had up to now, so that such diplomatic savvy might never be forthcoming from him. As of now, Russian diplomatic efforts in such forums as the United Nations are of the Baghdad Bob sort even as the Ukrainians are performing masterfully, not just spreading the word but showing Westerners (and probably everyone else): we’re your sort of people — more, we’re the sort of people you hope you are.
Once again, the West must win firmly, though this time — unlike after the collapse of its Soviet Union guise — there should be effective stroking of Russia’s vanities.
Cogent interview with Putin biographer Fiona Hill. She floats the notion that he’d be happy to have Ukraine broken up:
In 2015, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was at the Munich Security Conference after the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas. And he talked about Ukraine not being a country, saying pointedly that there are many minority groups in Ukraine — there are Poles and there are Romanians, there are Hungarians and Russians. And he goes on essentially almost inviting the rest of Europe to divide Ukraine up.
So what Putin wants isn’t necessarily to occupy the whole country, but really to divide it up. He’s looked at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other places where there’s a division of the country between the officially sanctioned forces on the one hand, and the rebel forces on the other. That’s something that Putin could definitely live with — a fractured, shattered Ukraine with different bits being in different statuses.
Partitioning the country; that’s a solution Biden always goes for. And if Putin suggests it, the Europeans may pressure the Ukrainians to accept it. Though it could well be that the European mood has changed sufficiently so that even the newly feckless United States could accept that, they won’t.
Monday, February 28th, 2022
At last, Mark Steyn is writing again.
I take faint glimmers of a new seriousness in the chancelleries of Europe not as a sign of Nato “unity”, but as the dawning realization that the US has blown the last thirty years and they’re now in a post-American world, and, absent course-correction, ultimately on the same grim trajectory as Ukraine.
In Tablet, Lee Smith writes lists the plethora of wickedly poor decisions that led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine:
Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in 1994 in exchange for U.S. security guarantees in the event its neighbors, Russia in particular, turned hostile. What kind of strategy dictates that a state hand over its security vis-a-vis local actors to a country half the world away? No strategy at all. Ukraine was not able to transcend its natural geography as a buffer state — and worse, a buffer state that failed to take its own existence seriously, which meant that it would continue to make disastrously bad bets.
By tying itself to an American administration that had shown itself to be reckless and dangerous, the Ukrainians made a geopolitical blunder that statesmen will study for years to come: A buffer state had staked its future on a distant power that had simply seen it as an instrument to annoy its powerful neighbor with no attachment to any larger strategic concept that it was willing to support.
To sum it up in few words: “10% for the big guy”.
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022
I just had to read this one entitled “Why Putin didn’t invade Ukraine during the last U.S. administration”. The question should be a discomfiting one indeed for people of the author’s ilk. His response, prefaced by a prudent “perhaps”: “because Putin was so pleased to see Trump pursuing goals in line with Moscow’s agenda”. Steve Benen is a producer for The Rachel Maddow Show.
Saturday, February 5th, 2022
Friday, January 28th, 2022
The New York Post appears to be cruisin’ for another cancellin’, what with their Peter Schweizer reporting that the Biden family has done five deals in China arranged by individuals with ties to Chinese intelligence. Such poor taste, reporting on this sort of distraction from the real issues.
Tuesday, December 14th, 2021
Abu Dhabi leader Mohamed bin Zayed will visit Israel, reports Israel’s Globes.
Tuesday, November 16th, 2021
I’m pleased to see this — Fathom, the organ of BICOM, the British-Israeli thinktank, has a series of articles under the rubric UK-Israel 2021. They are:
- Ambivalent Allies? Zionism, Israel and the Conservative Party from Balfour to Boris by James Vaughan, Lecturer in International History at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University
- Mandate: The Palestine Crucible 1919-1939 by Colin Shindler, Emeritus Professor at SOAS, University of London and founding chairman of the European Association of Israel Studies
- The Flourishing of UK-Israel Academic Networks by John Levy, Director of The Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East
- When Britain almost declared war on Israel by Ronnie Fraser, an independent scholar and Director of the Academic Friends of Israel
- How Israel military tech (and doctrine) will make the UK better at fighting the hybrid warfare of the future by Seth Frantzman, op-ed editor of The Jerusalem Post and Research Associate at the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at IDC Herzliya
- The Roots of the ‘Al Aqsa is in Danger’ Myth: Alfred Mond and a Speech Distorted by Yisrael Medad, media column for the Jerusalem Post and foreign press spokesperson for the Yesha Council of Jewish communities
I want bilateral histories.
Friday, November 5th, 2021
Walter Russell Mead points out that the USA and EU are progressing towards trade deals at the expense of China. This is a grand thing, a major story, that I’m not seeing reported anywhere else at all.
Sunday, September 26th, 2021
In what turned out to be his final essay, “Graveyard of Narratives”, Angelo Codevilla excoriates America’s response to 9/11, even going so far as to point out that it wasn’t really fully clear just how involved Osama Bin Laden was. Codevilla:
Since WWII, whether in the name of anti-communism, anti-terrorism, democracy, or humanitarianism, it’s always the same: dismiss the substance of local quarrels; recast the local scene in terms of American elites’ concerns…
Thursday, June 24th, 2021
Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
The Lebanese are warming to Israel. I believe that one day there will be more than convivial relations between the two Levantine nations.
After some throat-clearing, Thomas Friedman promotes Trump’s Deal of the Century between Israel and the Palestinians. He writes regarding the Palestinian capital:
Biden should reshape U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian relations by opening a diplomatic mission to the P.A. — as the nascent Palestinian state government — near its headquarters in Ramallah.
That’s Ramallah, not Jerusalem, which is for Israel:
The U.S. should encourage the six Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates) to simultaneously move their embassies from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem…
And then this:
Biden should propose negotiations on peace with Trump’s plan as the starting point.
Saturday, May 22nd, 2021
In “The Realignment” authors Michael Doran and Tony Badran are forthright about the egregious and insensible Iran-appeasement policy that the Biden Administration is continuing from the Obama era, despite years now of experience both bitter (Syria) and sweet (Abraham Accords) demonstrating its utter folly.
Friday, May 14th, 2021
This feels important — Austria flies Israel’s flag alongside its own and the EU’s over the Chancellory in Vienna.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2021
(The irritatingly insouciant) Lionel Shriver notes that there will likely be unpleasant geopolitical consequences to wokeness in that Western civilization’s illiberal adversaries will interpret the bewailing self-castigation coming from American and British elites as evidence of actual decline — correctly or not (though I suspect correctly).
Friday, April 9th, 2021
Israel’s INSS thinktank believes it’s time to more firmly oppose Assad’s Syria. Israel’s mostly hands-off approach towards this horrendous conflict on her borders may well go down in history as the main stain on Netanyahu’s record. Yet if Israel could have tipped the scales of civil war at some point to get rid of Assad, would things have been any better? We know from other interventions, eg Libya, the vacuum and chaos that would most likely have ensued. Very hard.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020
Good old Speccie:
For Britain, there are many lessons to be learned from the IDF, a democratic military machine that relies heavily on technology to engage enemies on various fronts and in diverse contexts.
This from “Britain is right to pursue closer military ties to Israel” by Jake Wallis Simons. I had not known that the source of Israel’s tip-off regarding Syria’s North Korean nuclear reactor was a British spy.
Sunday, November 8th, 2020
Seeming US President-elect Joe Biden “has said openly for a long time that “he will go back to the nuclear agreement,” warns Israel’s Settlements Minister and long-time soothsayer Tzachi Hanegbi. “I see that as something that will lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran.”
Robert Kagan puts recent US history into perspective, talking to the rather platitudinous Walther Russell Mead. Some choice cut:
Russia and China are always going to be fundamentally at odds. It would be a very strange universe in which they are not. If I really believe that if you’re a Russian and you wake up sweating bullets at 3:00 in the morning, what you’re sweating about is the fact that China is going to take over Siberia in one way or another. China is a big, and by the way, the racist feelings on both sides are enormous. They both think the other one is a monkey and have always felt that way.
Wednesday, November 4th, 2020
“How Israel Helped Win the Cold War” by Joshua Muravchik in Commentary Magazine. Great piece, great service. How I wish every American who writes anti-Israel comments in online threads all over — remember the Liberty, stop making us fight your wars for you, etc — would read this — very slowly.
Sunday, November 1st, 2020
“Because the Republic is at stake”: David Goldman for Trump. Allow me to also attest: as president, Donald Trump has passed George Gilder’s Israel test with colors so stratospheric it almost makes one cynical about cynicism.
Sunday, September 20th, 2020
Obvious yes but still worth a quick read: the people likely to benefit most from Israeli-Gulf relations are Arab Israelis.
In due time, they stand to serve as excellent mediators for any further economic and tourism ties between the UAE and Israel.
Friday, September 18th, 2020
“Recognizing that the Arab and Jewish peoples are descendant of a common ancestor…” — Let us savor the text of the Treaty of Peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Blessed are the peacemakers…
Tuesday, September 1st, 2020
Israel and UAE sign their first agreement in the normalization talks: on banking and finance.
Friday, August 7th, 2020
Shamefully kowtowing to China, Israel has withdrawn a Ministry of Health public service video that humorously refers to the coronavirus as “Made in China (yet works properly)”. This isn’t going well is it?
Saturday, July 25th, 2020
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Nixon Library to a new posture regarding China.
If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party … securing our freedoms from [the CCP] is the mission of our time.
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020
It’s telling that in their respective theatres — the Middle East, Europe and Eurasia — the prime strategic directive for liberal bulwarks Israel, Britain and the United States is to block aspiring authoritarian hegemons.
Thursday, June 4th, 2020
Rejecting “false equivalency between rule of law and rule by law”, the USA has published its Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China.
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
“Opposing an aspiring Eurasian hegemon is the American prime strategic directive.” Donnelly’s back!
Sunday, April 12th, 2020
In “The Unbearable Rightness of Trump”, the redoubtable Andrew Klavan recounts his erstwhile amusement watching the video mash-up of Trump saying “China”, only to realize later that the then presidential candidate was correct in his focus.
Klavan’s anecdote rings home precisely for me; I too was so amused that I showed the video to my son for laughs. When it matters most, and behind the weird performant exterior, Donald Trump’s vision pierces through the fog to the essence of a situation. That is why he is President.
Thursday, January 9th, 2020
“The Soleimani Killing: An Initial Assessment” [PDF], a study by Hillel Frisch, Eytan Gilboa, Gershon Hacohen, Doron Itzchakov, and Alexander Joffe at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Friday, January 3rd, 2020
From “you can’t do anything” to “a severe revenge”: Khamenei fumes regarding “that guy” Trump as US kills Iran’s Al-Quds Force leader Soleimani in a missile attack at Baghdad Airport.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019
VDH provides a bit of actual strategy for the USA on the China, Iran, and North Korea fronts:
The most dangerous moments … are predictable. They follow when one side, arrogant from previously being exempt from any consequences for its aggression, believes it’s starting to lose a conflict that it prompted and cannot afford to lose.
With hundreds shot dead, Iran’s Islamic Republic is undergoing its worst unrest to date.
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
George Friedman on Brexit: it is very likely to happen, as is the painful shift to increased ties with the Anglosphere.
Monday, October 7th, 2019
“Guidelines for Israel’s National Security Strategy” by Gadi Eisenkot and Gabi Siboni [PDF] published October 2019 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
I support every clause and every irony in this best Victor Davis Hanson piece in a while. VDH must even resort to a consistent use of italics, his points are so pertinent. My one qualm here is that Israel is surely uneasy with America’s seeming passivity vis-a-vis Iran’s attacks. But this qualm is quelled because Israel is only Little Satan, whereas Big Satan has economic pressures it can and is bringing to bear on Iran that are just not in Israel’s wheelhouse.
Thursday, September 26th, 2019
As opposed to the better-known warning against entangling foreign alliances, the real money quote from Washington’s Farewell address was that in foreign affairs the United States be “guided by justice”. So argues freshly-minted Giselle Donnelly — I love this robust American Enterprise Institute fellow.
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
Saturday, June 15th, 2019
Who were the Icelandic Eurovision nutjobs? Very much sons of privilege.
Friday, May 17th, 2019
China breaches US oil export sanctions against Iran, Debka reports. Oh dear.
Friday, April 19th, 2019
In Commentary, her deputy recounts Nikki Haley’s time at the UN.
Friday, March 22nd, 2019
Trump: “Time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights”. What fabulous news. What a mysterious blessing is this American from Queens.
Friday, March 15th, 2019
Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2018 [PDF] by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Friday, December 14th, 2018
Thank you JINSA for this bracing, worrying overview of the situation between Israel and Hezballah: “Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges” [PDF].
Saturday, October 13th, 2018
I’m with Thomas (now Giselle), as robust as it blimmin’ gets with his Empire for Liberty.
My own sort of wacky view about it is that the American Revolution was basically a dispute over the course and direction and ground rules of the Empire.