Newsweek as cheerleader

February 22, 2009

Jennifer Rubin is disgusted and isn’t surprised at Newsweek’s shrinking subscriptions.


Utterly naive

February 22, 2009

Yeah, I know. It's terribly presumptuous of me to write that about someone who's spent a career working with foreign policy and intelligence, but it's true: Bruce Riedel, the man appointed by President Obama to conduct a top-level review of US policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, thinks the ultimate solution to our war with jihadist Islam will be found in …wait for it… solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!

President Obama named Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and Brooking Institution scholar, to head up a review team for overhauling U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Via the Christian Science Monitor, a big part of Riedel's grand strategy for winning in Afghanistan is, um, securing a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel:

  • Ultimately, the solution in Afghanistan may involve solving the age-old conflict between the Arab states and Israel, says administration adviser Riedel in a book published by the Brookings Institution, a foreign-policy think tank, last year. Al Qaeda, and the Taliban to some extent, continue to be motivated by the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Riedel argues. If that conflict is resolved, Al Qaeda may go away.
  • "If Palestinians choose to make peace with Israel, the most fundamental point of Al Qaeda's narrative becomes irrelevant," Riedel writes. "In other words, making peace between Israelis and Arabs is not only wise policy in its own right, but also an extremely useful strategy for pulling the rug out from under Al Qaeda."

Read the rest of the piece for just a few reasons why Riedel's view is a fantasy straight out of the playbook for the Hundred Acre Wood school of diplomacy.

Pooh foreign policy

Liberal-internationalist Democrats (and many Realist Republicans) are obsessed with the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of our troubles in the Middle East and with the Islamic world in general.

They're wrong. The problem is rooted in Islam itself.

Leave aside for the moment that the Arab states truly don't give a damn about the Palestinians other than as a tool they can exploit against the hated Jews and to distract their own abused people from their abusive rulers. If they had truly wanted a solution, those refugee camps could have been emptied decades ago and the populations assimilated into Jordan, which was once part of Palestine and is ethnically indistinguishable from the Palestinians who left what is now Israel. Ignore all that.

No, the problem lies in the jihad imperative in the Qur'an, the hadith, the schools of sharia law, and the biographies of Muhammad that call for war against non-Muslims. This urge to jihad is a sacred duty in Islam and has periodically lead Muslims to war with those on their borders. If Israel did not exist, if the fondest dreams of Hamas were fulfilled and the Jews driven into the sea, that wouldn't stop the jihad. They would merely carry it to other parts of the world as they are doing right now, regardless of the status of Jerusalem.

Mr. Riedel is seeing the problem through the wrong lens, and that will lead, at best, to further meaningless negotiations and pressure on Israel to make even more concessions to an enemy who takes any concession as as sign of weakness. At worst, this insistence on a paradigm that makes sense only in UN conference rooms and State Department cocktail parties will fuel the jihad and lead to more attacks against the West and, yes, Afghanistan and Pakistan — the jihadis of which couldn't care less about Israel or their Islamic "brothers," anyway.

Mr. Riedel clearly needs to do some study. May I recommend a few good books?

Hmmm… Since he's the president's appointee, maybe his boss should do some reading, too.

Sunday funnies

February 22, 2009

The latest NewsBusted with the easy-on-the-eyes Jodi Miller:

Hee hee


California as France

February 22, 2009

Matthew Kaminski makes the comparison, and it’s not a good one for my beloved Golden State:

Now there’s much to recommend the Old World. California brings to mind my last home, France — God’s country blessed with fertile soil for wines, sun-blanched beaches, and a well-educated populace. Amusingly, both states are led by bling-bling immigrants married to glamorous women and elected to shake up the status quo. In both departments, the governator got a head start on Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.

The parallels are also disquieting. The French have long experienced the unintended consequences of a large public sector. Ask them about it. As the number of people who get money from government grows, so does the power of constituencies dedicated to keep this honey dripping. Even when voters recognize the model carries drawbacks, such as subpar growth, high taxes, an uncompetitive business climate and above-average unemployment, their elected leaders find it near impossible to tweak the system. This has been the story of France for decades, and lately of California.

Six years ago, Mr. Schwarzenegger arrived in Sacramento to "cut up the credit card" and give the girlie men at the State Capitol a testosterone shot. California languished then in a fiscal crisis whose causes were pretty much the same as today. The hapless Gray Davis had been recalled, and the Austrian-born actor made a promising start to break the pattern.

In 2005, banking on his popularity, the governor pushed an ambitious ballot initiative to impose a hard state spending cap, limit the unions’ political buying power, tighten requirements for teacher tenure, and overhaul a gerrymandered state political map. Arnold lost.

Rather than regrouping and coming back to try again to fix California’s structural problems, Arnold instead switched to those issues which would make him popular. In the process, not only did Arnie lose, so did Californians. Our problems –irrational spending policies, union dominance, constitutionally mandated spending, and bloated state labor rolls– are well-entrenched and would take a Herculean effort to fix.

Unfortunately, Hercules wimped out.