June 2, 2012
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OPINION: Iran’s march toward conventional domination of the Arab world has been largely overlooked
While Iran’s march toward a nuclear bomb has provoked a major clash between the White House and Congress, Iran’s march toward conventional domination of the Arab world has been largely overlooked. In Washington, that is. The Arabs have noticed. And the pro-American ones, the Gulf Arabs in particular, are deeply worried.
OPINION: Turns out the Islamic State’s best recruiting tool is indeed savagery — its own
As for the short run, the Islamic State knows it will be pounded from the air. But it deems that price worth paying, given its gains in propaganda and prestige — translated into renown and recruiting — from these public executions.
A combination of early presidential maneuvering and internal policy debate is feeding yet another iteration of that media perennial: the great Republican crackup. This time it's tea party insurgents versus get-along establishment fogies fighting principally over two things: (a) national security and (b) Obamacare.
Clare Boothe Luce liked to say that “a great man is one sentence.” Presidents, in particular. The most common “one sentence” for George W. Bush (whose legacy is being reassessed as his presidential library opens) is: “He kept us safe.”
The proposition that entitlement curbs are the key to maintaining national solvency is widely accepted, though not by many congressional Democrats. President Obama, however, has endorsed it on various occasions. And he could make it happen.
Sequestration is not the best time to be doling out foreign aid, surely the most unpopular item in the federal budget. Especially when the recipient is President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt.
"The worst-case scenario for us," a leading anti-budget-cuts lobbyist told The Washington Post, "is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens."
The president suggested he would hold off introducing his own immigration bill as long as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace — until his own immigration bill mysteriously leaked precisely as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace.
The nation’s vexation over the morality and legality of President Obama’s drone war has produced a salutary but hopelessly confused debate. Three categories of questions are being asked. They must be separated to be clearly understood.
For the first time since Election Day, President Obama is on the defensive. That’s because on March 1, automatic spending cuts (“sequestration”) go into effect — $1.2 trillion over 10 years, half from domestic (discretionary) programs, half from defense.
Immigration reform is coming. Let's get it right. What counts as getting it wrong? The 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Act, signed by President Reagan. It granted amnesty to the then 3 million illegal immigrants and promised border enforcement.
The media herd is stunned to discover that Barack Obama is a man of the left. After 699 teleprompted presidential speeches, the commentariat was apparently still oblivious. Until Monday’s inaugural address, that is.
It has become conventional wisdom that Republicans are suffering an internal split that President Obama is successfully exploiting to neuter the Republican House. It is not true, however, that the Republican split is philosophical and fundamental. And that a hopelessly divided GOP is therefore headed for decline, perhaps irrelevance.
The puzzle of the Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary is that you normally choose someone of the other party for your Cabinet to indicate a move to the center, but, as The Washington Post editorial board points out, Hagel's foreign policy views are to the left of Barack Obama's, let alone the GOP's. Indeed, they are at the fringe of the entire Senate.
Every mass shooting has three elements: the killer, the weapon and the cultural climate. As soon as the shooting stops, partisans immediately pick their preferred root cause with corresponding pet panacea. Names are hurled, scapegoats paraded, prejudices vented. The argument goes nowhere.
For all the fury and fistfights outside the Lansing Capitol, what happened in Michigan this week was a simple accommodation to reality. The most famously unionized state, birthplace of the United Auto Workers, royalty of the American working class, became right-to-work.
No mystery about the trajectory of this race. It was static for months as President Obama held a marginal lead. Then came the conventions. The Republicans squandered Tampa; the Democrats got a 3- to 4-point bounce out of Charlotte.
In the week following 9/11/12 something big happened: the collapse of the Cairo Doctrine, the centerpiece of President Obama's foreign policy. It was to reset the very course of post-9/11 America, creating, after the (allegedly) brutal depredations of the Bush years, a profound rapprochement with the Islamic world.
There are few foreign-policy positions more silly than the assertion without context that "deterrence works." It is like saying air power works. Well, it worked for Kosovo; it didn't work over North Vietnam.
Post-revolutionary Libya appears to have elected a relatively moderate pro-Western government. Good news, but tentative because Libya is less a country than an oil well with a long beach and myriad tribes. Popular allegiance to a central national authority is weak. Even if the government of Mahmoud Jibril is able to rein in the militias and establish a functioning democracy, it will be the Arab Spring exception. Consider:
Though overshadowed by the shocking Supreme Court decision on health care, the court’s Arizona immigration decision, issued three days earlier, remains far more significant than appreciated.
Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama is not exactly Jefferson-Adams or Lincoln-Douglas. No Harry Truman or Bill Clinton here, let alone FDR or Reagan.