The Power of the American Idea Comes from Its Synthesis of Classical Liberalism with the Hebrew Bible

For much of the post-World War II era, many U.S. conservatives have seen it as their mission to conserve the classical liberal ideas of such thinkers as John Locke, which are embedded in the American founding: the inviolability of private property, freedom of speech and conscience, limiting governmental overreach, and so forth—all principles under attack from Fascism, Communism, the New Left, and now “the Great Awokening.” But the past few years have seen the rise of a movement to reenergize conservative thinking by an appeal to ideas outside the liberal tradition. Taking aim at both proponents of a conservative “postliberalism” and partisans of the secular Enlightenment, Meir Soloveichik argues that the American founding is built on a “double helix” of classical liberalism and biblical thought. In First Things’s annual Erasmus Lecture, he explains that this potent blend gives the U.S. a unique purpose in world history. He finds this synthesis embodied above all in that great “theologian of the American idea,” Abraham Lincoln, who over the course of his life moved to embrace religion, inspired, in no small part, by a Jewish abolitionist. (Video, 84 minutes.)

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More about: Abraham Lincoln, American founding, Hebrew Bible, Liberalism, Post-liberalism, Religion and politics

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security