Restoring Our Moral Sense in Troubled Times

Oct. 23 2020

Taking the former’s recent book Morality in the Twentieth Century as a point of departure, Jonathan Sacks and Robert P. George argue that the current epidemic of loneliness, cancel culture, political disfunction, and other modern ills have their roots in a spiritual malaise attributable to the decline of traditional religiosity and the radical social changes that have taken place since the 1960s—made much worse by social media. These are problems that can only be counteracted by the cultivation of virtue and character, and the renewal of a common moral language. Rabbi Sacks concludes the discussion with a brief meditation on the distinction between hope and optimism, averring, “No Jew—knowing what we do of our history—can be an optimist, but no Jew worthy of the name ever lost hope.” (Video, 65 minutes. Moderated by Yuval Levin.)


Read more at American Enterprise Institute

More about: Jonathan Sacks, Morality, Religion, Social media

In Prospective Negotiations with Iran, the U.S. Has the Upper Hand. President-Elect Biden Is Determined Not to Use It

In a recent interview with a writer for the New York Times, Joe Biden expressed his willingness to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran (formally known as the JCPOA) without new preconditions. Noah Rothman comments:

[S]ome observers believe Biden has provided himself with an escape hatch. Biden reiterated his insistence that there could only be a new deal so long as “Iran returns to strict compliance.” [But if] Iranian compliance were a real sticking point, Biden might have dwelled on—or even mentioned in passing—the kind of inspections regime that would verify such a thing. But he did not.

[Under the terms of the deal], Iran provided inspectors access to declared nuclear sites but not military sites where illicit activities were likeliest to occur. A subsequent agreement allowed inspectors to access suspected sites but only with at least 24-days-notice—enough to dispose of the evidence of small-scale work on components related to a bomb. But functionally, that 24-day timeline could be reset by Iran, which could stretch the delays out for weeks—ample time to deceive inspectors.

The JCPOA was never designed to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear-nation status. It was only aimed at dragging that process out while reshuffling the region’s geopolitical deck in Iran’s favor and ultimately providing a patina of legitimacy to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Any talk about exhuming and reanimating this agreement that glosses over its weak verification regime suggests that the Biden administration, like the Obama administration, will settle for any deal—even a bad one.

Such an approach seems particularly shortsighted when the Islamic Republic has been pushed onto the defensive, reeling from economic woes, the devastating effects of the coronavirus, and a series of assassinations. Rather than press America’s advantage, when “Iran is on the ropes,” writes Rothman, Biden “is committed to negotiating from a position of weakness.”

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy