Raymond Aron: Defender and Critic of Liberal Democracy

The French political philosopher Raymond Aron (1905–1983) was born into a Jewish family, although I don’t know to what extent Judaism or Jewishness shaped his ideas. Recently published in English, his final lecture, Liberty and Equality, expresses both his belief in liberal democracy and his understanding of its flaws. In their review, Paul Wilford and Ethan Cutler argue that his teachings on the subject have much to offer America today:

When liberal democracies are at their best, Aron observes, personal, political, and social liberties counterbalance rather than subsume one another. Liberal regimes flourish, he maintains, when personal, social, and political liberties check and balance one another; they decay when just one form of liberty is considered the true end of political life, rendering the others mere means. . . .

To flourish, liberal democracies require a dynamic interrelation between city and soul, wherein the rationality that justifies the constitutional order and the rational action of the individual both find expression in the free subordination of particular desires and interests to the law.

Aron aspired to bolster our commitment to liberal democracy by clarifying the meaning of our liberties and the value of the legal order that enables them.

While I can’t say if Aron thought about things this way, I’m fairly certain that, as a general rule, Jews have faired best under the kind of political order he favored.

Read more at City Journal

More about: Liberalism, Political philosophy

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