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When It Comes to Iran, There’s No Time for the U.S. to Stall

Jan. 10 2018

After making hundreds of arrests and killing at least two-dozen citizens, the Islamic Republic has managed to put a damper, at least for now, on the recent wave of demonstrations. If Washington doesn’t step in soon to help the protesters, argues William Kristol, it will “have failed to seize a golden opportunity to further [its] interests and the cause of freedom in the Middle East.”

It is true that there are complex decisions pending on certifying or decertifying the nuclear deal and on waiving or not waiving various nuclear sanctions. But uncertainty about what to do about those is no reason not, at least, to begin to move on other fronts. There are many non-nuclear sanctions that can be imposed on the Revolutionary Guard, the central bank, and other elements of the regime; there are ways to highlight the protesters’ complaints about widespread corruption and the appropriation of wealth by various leaders; there are other ways to help the protesters. The administration has shown no urgency about moving ahead in any of these areas.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently tried to assure us that action will be coming soon. But time is of the essence. The demonstrators could use some concrete gestures of support. We are fiddling while the regime cracks down. The time to act is now.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Putting Aside the Pious Lies about the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 23 2018

In light of recent developments, including Mahmoud Abbas’s unusually frank speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership, Moshe Arens advocates jettisoning some frequently mouthed but clearly false assumptions about Israel’s situation, beginning with the idea that the U.S. should act as a neutral party in negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Free registration may be required.)

The United States cannot be, and has never been, neutral in mediating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is the leader of the world’s democratic community of nations and cannot assume a neutral position between democratic Israel and the Palestinians, whether represented by an autocratic leadership that glorifies acts of terror or by Islamic fundamentalists who carry out acts of terror. . . .

In recent years the tectonic shifts in the Arab world, the lower price of oil, and the decreased importance attached to the Palestinian issue in much of the region, have essentially removed the main incentive the United States had in past years to stay involved in the conflict. . . .

Despite the conventional wisdom that the core issues—such as Jerusalem or the fate of Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines—are the major stumbling blocks to an agreement, the issue for which there seems to be no solution in sight at the moment is making sure that any Israeli military withdrawal will not result in rockets being launched against Israel’s population centers from areas that are turned over to the Palestinians. . . .

Does that mean that Israel is left with a choice between a state with a Palestinian majority or an apartheid state, as claimed by Israel’s left? This imaginary dilemma is based on a deterministic theory of history, which disregards all other possible alternatives in the years to come, and on questionable demographic predictions. What the left is really saying is this: better rockets on Tel Aviv than a continuation of Israeli military control over Judea and Samaria. There is little support in Israel for that view.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, US-Israel relations