There is too much one could say about the President’s speech last night to fit in a blog post, but there are a couple of items worth noting.
I was struck by the President’s unacknowledged turnaround on the Syrian rebels. Just weeks ago, the notion that they might be worth helping was a “fantasy.” Here is an excerpt from the Thomas Friedman interview of August 10th, just a month ago. Read more »
Several days ago news reports “revealed” a proposal by Egyptian President Sisi to extend the territory of Gaza south into the Sinai. According to the story as Israel Army radio carried it, the area to be added to Gaza is five times the size of the current Gaza. The idea is that this area would accommodate all the Palestinian “refugees,” thus satisfying the demand for a “right of return.” Palestine would consist of this new area and the current Gaza, giving the Palestinians more territory than if the 1967 “borders” were restored. Read more »
What is the mission of the State Department, or more precisely what are its core missions?
Diplomacy? Avoiding war? Solidifying alliances? Explaining American policy?
Here’s a new one:
America’s faith communities, including American Muslims, are sources of strength for all of us. They’re an essential part of our national fabric, and we are committed to deepening our partnerships with them. We’re making these efforts to unite religious communities a core mission here at the State Department. Read more »
In the past week I have written a long article and even longer essay on the Middle East situation today.
“‘The Fog of Cease-fire: Who Won the Gaza War” is the cover story in this week’s edition of The Weekly Standard and can be found here. In brief, it seems to me Israel was the winner by most measures, but as we saw with the Lebanon war of 2006 (where most Israelis thought they had “lost” but now believe that conflict has deterred Hezbollah from making further trouble on the border) judgments may change over time. Meanwhile, there is no sense of triumph in Israel, which is already creating political difficulties for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Read more »
The war in Gaza has brought UNRWA, the UN agency dealing with Palestinian “refugees,” back into the news– mostly because UNRWA schools were used to shoot rockets at Israel.
The failings of UNRWA were examined here (“Ending UNRWA and Advancing Peace“) in December, 2011, although today they seem even worse. The UNRWA employees union is under Hamas control, and it’s clear that the staff is riddled with Hamas “activists.” The Israeli commentator and former Knesset member Einat Wilf wrote yesterday that
Read more »
The threat to the United States and to American interests from the “Islamic State” is now obvious and has been acknowledged by President Obama and his entire administration. The Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security have stated that there is a threat to the homeland, and the President has spoken about the brutality of this group in commenting on its beheading of the American journalist James Foley. Read more »
Despite the criticism of the UN’s Goldstone Report, including by Goldstone himself, the UN seems determined to do it again.
Goldstone investigated “Operation Cast Lead,” the war between Israel and Hamas in December 2008 and January 2009, or more precisely he ignored Hamas and investigated Israel. Now the UN Human Rights Council has appointed a commission to investigate the current conflict, and once again Israel alone is to be the target. There will be no investigation of the rocket and mortars fired at Israel by Hamas, nothing about the purpose of the terror tunnels dug by Hamas into Israel, nothing about human shields, nothing even about Hamas’s use of UN facilities as storage sites and launching pads. Read more »
The Spanish language uses reflexive verbs more than English, and one of my favorite has always been “se cayo.” Roughly translated that means “it fell itself down” or “it broke itself.” The closest English might be the use of the passive voice, as in “the glass broke” or “the glass fell down” in place of “I broke the glass” or “I dropped the glass.” Read more »
Pressure Points tracks developments in the Middle East and democratization and human rights issues globally.