Saul Bellow’s Politics

Reviewing a recently published collection of essays titled A Political Companion to Saul Bellow, Martin Rubin examines the great writer’s politics:

Bellow, who was born in 1915 and died just short of his 90th birthday in 2005, followed a political trajectory typical of intellectuals—and particularly Jewish ones—of his generation. Starting out as a Trotskyite in the 1930s, he went through predictable adherence to New Deal liberal values and their afterglow, before ending up as a neoconservative in all but name. And in that last clause, “aye, there’s the rub.”

Unlike Edward Shils, his friend and colleague at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, Bellow was shy about identifying himself overtly with the political right. In this he was more like his other friend and colleague Allan Bloom. . . . While Bloom was too genuinely subtle in his politics and general thinking to embrace wholeheartedly any single label, Bellow’s similar skittishness additionally owed quite a bit to his ambition. To put it crudely, he knew that the prevailing intellectual establishment in this country and much of the rest of the West was too doggedly liberal to shower honors on someone who swam against the tide. . . .

Yet where it counted, he wore his political as well as his private heart on his sleeve. To his credit as a consummate artist, his fiction is generally unvarnished in its expression of his true political stance. As far back as his magnum opus, Herzog, 40 years before his death, you see his respect for normative values and the bourgeoisie revealing itself between the cracks. A dozen years later in Mr. Sammler’s Planet you see him unmistakably as neoconservative before [the movement’s] heyday. . . .

Adam Bellow, [the novelist’s second son], . . . stressed certain enduring lodestars in his father’s life, like his commitment to Israel and the influence of the conservative thinker Leo Strauss, with whom “he shared a certain sense of detachment from American society, but also a great sense of gratitude and appreciation for it.”

Read more at Washington Times

More about: Allan Bloom, American Jewish literature, Arts & Culture, Neoconservatism, Saul Bellow

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy