“Israel has recently been under intense criticism on the world stage. Some of it, like the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (B.D.S.) campaign, is a campus movement to destroy Israel masquerading as a political critique. But a lot of it is also driven by Israel’s desire to destroy itself — thanks to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s steady elimination of any possibility that Israel will separate itself from the Palestinians in the West Bank.Netanyahu is a man who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never crossing it, always teasing you (“I’m coming your way — I’m going to make a decision”), only to remain right where he is, balancing between all his rivals, so that he alone survives. Meanwhile, Israel sinks ever deeper into a de facto binational state controlled by Jewish extremists.Soon, this newspaper will have to call Netanyahu what he’s made himself into: “Prime Minister of the State of Israel-Palestine.”I raise this now because Israel under Netanyahu has gone from bad to worse. He just forced out Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. Yaalon, a former army chief of staff, is a very decent man — a soldier’s soldier, determined to preserve the Israeli Army as a people’s army that aspires to the highest standards of integrity in the middle of a very dangerous neighborhood.”
Source: Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel-Palestine – The New York Times
My comment to the NYT:
“I just read a book that Barack Obama and Donald Trump would both enjoy.It argues that the last two decades of U.S. foreign policy were an aberration — an era when America became so overwhelmingly more powerful than any rival that it got geopolitically drunk and decided that it didn’t just want to be a cop on the beat protecting our nation, but also a social worker, architect and carpenter doing nation-building abroad.It was all done with the best of intentions, and in some cases did save precious lives. But none of the efforts achieved the kind of self-sustaining democratizing order we wanted, which is why neither this president nor the next wants to be doing any more of that — if they can at all avoid it.”
This was not Mr. Friedman’s strongest writing. It starts by saying he thinks Obama and Trump would enjoy this important book. Is he endorsing Trump, or is in hurry to make a deadline? He covers too many ideas and countries, and is all over the place. Was the US led NATO intervention in Bosnia already a proven political disaster? It didn’t appear to be so when I was in Bosnia last summer. Sometimes I fear that Mr. Friedman is more concerned with big sweeping ideas, models and statements, than with the dirty specifics that often make difficult such pontifications. That said, this probably is an important book, with critical ideas. Some of the ideas seemed hauntingly useful. Maybe Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and John Kasich would enjoy it.
The link to the Friedman piece: http://nyti.ms/1SzIF9b
Here is a beauty from the comments at the NYT, poetry no less:
So men try to impose their will
With purses they would love to fill
With Profits in mind
To History blind
They make things more disastrous still.
The air of the Earth they pollute
As they rally in their reckless route,
Fools some for a while
As Oligarchs pillage and loot.
And the Deity His vigil keeps
Will not intervene, simply weeps,
Earth’s temperature rises
As sordid surprises
Await men on Land and the Deeps.”
“We and the E.U. together have got to think about how to create safe places in Libya and Syria to stem the refugee tide before it breaks the E.U. History will not be kind to Obama if he just turns away.At the same time, Obama has an opportunity that no U.S. president ever had before. Two fledgling democracies have emerged in the Middle East — on their own. One is in Tunisia, whose civil society leaders won the Nobel Peace Prize, after writing the most democratic constitution ever in the region. But today guns, refugees and Islamist terrorists coming from Libya, which we recklessly uncorked, are helping destabilize the Tunisian experiment.The West should be all over Tunisia with economic, technical and military assistance. “Tunisia is a start-up democracy,” its former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa told me. “It may be small, but its leverage for the future of the region is enormous. I can’t imagine any stability in the region if Tunisia doesn’t succeed.”
The other self-ignited democracy experiment is Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Kurds on their own built an American-style university in Sulaimaniya, because they want to emulate our liberal arts, and just opened a second American University, in Dohuk. But tiny Kurdistan today is hosting 1.8 million refugees from other parts of Iraq and from Syria, and with low oil prices, it’s almost bankrupt.”
Friedman thinks Obama is failing to help the two fledgling democracies, when a little help could produce important dividends.
I wrote the following comment in the NYT: Perhaps Tom Friedman has a point, that a little support to Tunisia and the Kurds could pay political dividends. Obama is right, that we can’t afford to be the dumbest, richest kid at the poker table. Could someone at the NYT explain to me why Israel deserves three billion dollars a year of US support, when it is destroying any chance of peace through it policy of occupying Palastinian lands.
Perhaps we could cut off or wind down our support of Israel, while increasing our aid to Tunisia and the Kurds, and Detroit and Flint Michigan.
Source: Does Obama Have This Right? – The New York Times
Tom Friedman, doesn’t say what he is for, but he infers an enormous respect for Barack Obama’s caution and reticence in diving into a quagmire that is getting worse, not better.
“Meanwhile, a no-state Syria — a Syria that Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers only partly control — will be a chest wound bleeding refugees into Europe. I am certain that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is deliberately bombing anti-regime Syrians to drive them into Europe in hopes of creating a rift in the European Union, strain its resources and make it a weaker rival to Russia and a weaker ally for America.”
Source: The Many Mideast Solutions – The New York Times
“In May, I visited Vietnam and met with university students. After a week of being love-bombed by Vietnamese, who told me how much they admire America, want to work or study there and have friends and family living there, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “How did we get this country so wrong? How did we end up in a war with Vietnam that cost so many lives and drove them into the arms of their most hated enemy, China?”It’s a long, complicated story, I know, but a big part of it was failing to understand that the core political drama of Vietnam was an indigenous nationalist struggle against colonial rule — not the embrace of global communism, the interpretation we imposed on it.The North Vietnamese were both communists and nationalists — and still are. But the key reason we failed in Vietnam was that the communists managed to harness the Vietnamese nationalist narrative much more effectively than our South Vietnamese allies, who were too often seen as corrupt or illegitimate. The North Vietnamese managed to win (with the help of brutal coercion) more Vietnamese support not because most Vietnamese bought into Marx and Lenin, but because Ho Chi Minh and his communist comrades were perceived to be the more authentic nationalists.”
Source: ISIS and Vietnam – The New York Times
Tom Friedman: “How is it that we are not deploying a carbon tax and using that to reduce payroll taxes that discourage hiring and shrink corporate taxes that reduce investment? Many economists — left, right and center — agree that a carbon tax, with adjustments for low-income earners, makes a world of sense. How is it that our two parties cannot agree on imaginative solutions to ease the burden of $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loans — by, say, enabling graduates to pay off student loans with pretax income, the same way we allow workers to save in 401(k)s? The Highway Trust Fund, the primary source of financing for roads and mass transit is going broke primarily because House Republicans won’t agree to an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which has not been raised since 1993!”
Is Friedman right that the Barack and Hillary are useless chickens on the carbon tax issue, or did the Obama team fly a carbon tax once or twice, only to have it shot down in the Congress? I guess that he hates Hillary, because she was tough on Israel, and supported the treaty with Iran.
Coral Davenport wrote in the NYT on 9/27/14 that Obama sent a carbon pricing cap and trade system to Congress, which was roundly defeated. Since a cap and trade system, according to Pope Francis’s encyclical, and environmentalists such as Dean Cycon, is a very weak and manipulable non tax pricing system, its failure suggests a real carbon tax had zero chance. My criticism of Obama, is that he doesn’t fight for it repeatedly. I think Hillary should call for it, so she has a mandate if elected to enact it.
So many presidential candidates. So few daring ideas or trade-offs.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman