Thursday, August 29, 2013

The American Dream Is Not Dead. By Rush Limbaugh.

The American Dream is Not Dead. By Rush Limbaugh., August 29, 2013.

Minimum Wage: How Much is Too Much? By Rush Limbaugh., August 29, 2013.

What Camus Understood About the Middle East. By Paul Berman.

What Camus Understood About the Middle East. By Paul Berman. The New Republic, August 12, 2013.

The Colonist of Good Will: On Albert Camus. By Thomas Meaney. The Nation, August 27, 2013.

The Israeli Spring. By Victor Davis Hanson.

The Israeli Spring. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, August 29, 2013.

The unlikely winner of the Arab revolutions happens to be Israel. By Dominique Moisi. The Daily Star (Lebanon), August 26, 2013.


Israel could be forgiven for having a siege mentality — given that at any moment, old frontline enemies Syria and Egypt might spill their violence over common borders.
The Arab Spring has thrown Israel’s once-predictable adversaries into the chaotic state of a Sudan or Somalia. The old understandings between Jerusalem and the Assad and Mubarak kleptocracies seem in limbo.
Yet these tragic Arab revolutions swirling around Israel are paradoxically aiding it, both strategically and politically — well beyond just the erosion of conventional Arab military strength.
In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.
The old nexus of radical Islamic terror of the last three decades is unraveling. With a wink and a nod, Arab dictatorships routinely subsidized Islamic terrorists to divert popular anger away from their own failures to the West or Israel. In the deal, terrorists got money and sanctuary. The Arab Street blamed others for their own government-inflicted miseries. And thieving authoritarians posed as Islam’s popular champions.
But now, terrorists have turned on their dictator sponsors. And even the most ardent Middle East conspiracy theorists are having troubling blaming the United States and Israel.
Secretary of State John Kerry is still beating last century’s dead horse of a “comprehensive Middle East peace.” But does Kerry’s calcified diplomacy really assume that a peace agreement involving Israel would stop the ethnic cleansing of Egypt’s Coptic Christians? Does Israel have anything to do with Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people?
There are other losers as well. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to turn a once-secular Turkish democracy into a neo-Ottoman Islamist sultanate, with grand dreams of eastern-Mediterranean hegemony. His selling point to former Ottoman Arab subjects was often a virulent anti-Semitism. Suddenly, Turkey became one of Israel’s worst enemies and the Obama administration’s best friends.
Yet if Erdogan has charmed President Obama, he has alienated almost everyone in the Middle East. Islamists such as former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi felt that Erdogan was a fickle and opportunistic conniver. The Gulf monarchies believed that he was a troublemaker who wanted to supplant their influence. Neither the Europeans nor the Russians trust him. The result is that Erdogan’s loud anti-Israeli foreign policy is increasingly irrelevant.
The oil-rich sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf once funded terrorists on the West Bank, but they are now fueling the secular military in Egypt. In Syria they are searching to find some third alternative to Assad’s Alawite regime and its al-Qaeda enemies. For the moment, oddly, the Middle East foreign policy of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other oil monarchies dovetails with Israel’s: Predictable Sunni-Arab nationalism is preferable to one-vote, one-time Islamist radicals.
Israel no doubt prefers that the Arab world liberalize and embrace constitutional government. Yet the current bloodletting lends credence to Israel’s ancient complaints that it never had a constitutional or lawful partner in peace negotiations.
In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt dictatorship is gone. His radical Muslim Brotherhood successors were worse and are also gone. The military dictatorship that followed both is no more legitimate than either. In these cycles of revolution, the one common denominator is an absence of constitutional government.
In Syria, there never was a moderate middle. Take your pick between the murderous Shiite-backed Assad dictatorship or radical Sunni Islamists. In Libya, the choice degenerated to Moammar Qaddafi’s unhinged dictatorship or the tribal militias that overthrew it. Let us hope that one day westernized moderate democracy might prevail. But that moment seems a long way off.
What do the Egyptian military, the French in Mali, Americans at home, the Russians, the Gulf monarchies, persecuted Middle Eastern Christians, and the reformers of the Arab Spring all have in common? Like Israel, they are all fighting Islamic-inspired fanaticism. And most of them, like Israel, are opposed to the idea of a nuclear Iran.
In comparison with the ruined economies of the Arab Spring — tourism shattered, exports nonexistent, and billions of dollars in infrastructure lost through unending violence — Israel is an atoll of prosperity and stability. Factor in its recent huge gas and oil finds in the eastern Mediterranean, and it may soon become another Kuwait or Qatar, but with a real economy beyond its booming petroleum exports.
Israel had nothing to do with either the Arab Spring or its failure. The irony is that surviving embarrassed Arab regimes now share the same concerns with the Israelis. In short, the more violent and chaotic the Middle East becomes, the more secure and exceptional Israel appears.


The war in Iraq – which led in 2003 to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime – had one clear winner: Iran. The United States-led military intervention resulted in the weakening of the Middle East’s Sunni regimes, America’s traditional allies, and the strengthening of America’s principal foe in the region, the Islamic Republic. Ten years later, we may be witnessing yet another ironic outcome in the region: At least for the time being, Israel seems to be the only clear winner of the “Arab Spring” revolutions.
Most Israelis would strongly object to this interpretation. Their regional environment has become much more unstable and unpredictable. Only recently, Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted a rocket fired from Sinai that was aimed at the port of Eilat, while Thursday, several rockets were fired on northern Israel from Lebanon.
In contrast to the past, no Israeli border is now secure, especially the long frontier with Egypt. No implicit alliance can be taken for granted. All scenarios are open. Can Israel remain an oasis of stability, security, modernity, and economic growth in such a volatile environment?
The answer, of course, is no. Israel may be tempted to regard itself as some kind of latter-day Noah’s ark, but it is not. Tel Aviv has become a cross between San Francisco, Singapore, and Sao Paulo, but it is still less than 300 kilometers from Damascus. For the pessimists (or realists, depending on your perspective), Israel must remain on maximum alert to minimize the risks that it faces.
Above all, many Israelis (if not most) believe that this is no time to be imaginative and daring. The resumption of the peace process with the Palestinian Authority can be only a fig leaf. Israel simply cannot ignore the Americans in the way that the Egyptian army has as it has massacred its Islamist opponents.
But a very different reading of the current situation is possible. What started as a revolution, in the 18th-century meaning of the term, is becoming a reproduction of the religious wars that ravaged Europe from 1524 to 1648, pitting Catholics and Protestants against each other in the same way that Sunnis and Shiites are pitted against each other today. (In Egypt, however, we are seeing simply the return of a military police state.)
One may disagree with this Euro-centric interpretation, but what is clear is that the Muslim Middle East will be too preoccupied with internecine struggle to worry about the Palestinians or the existence of Israel. War with Jews or Christians has necessarily taken a back seat (except where, as in Egypt and Syria, Christian minorities are perceived to be allied with the regime).
In some cases, there is explicit cooperation with Israel. Because it is fighting for its own survival in a highly challenging environment, the Jordanian regime needs Israel’s security collaboration. Indeed, Israeli and Jordanian forces are now working together to secure their respective borders against infiltration by jihadists from Iraq or Syria, while Egypt and Israel now share the same objective in Sinai.
So the paradox of the Arab revolutions is that they have contributed to Israel’s integration as a strategic partner (for some countries) in the region. At this point, more Arab lives have been lost in Syria’s civil war than in all of the Arab-Israeli wars combined.
Of course, one should not draw the wrong conclusions from this. Israel may have become, more than ever, a key strategic partner for some Arab regimes, or a de facto ally against Iran (as it is for Saudi Arabia). But that does not imply that Israel’s neighbors have resigned themselves, in emotional terms, to its continued existence in their midst.
Nor does it mean that Israel can do whatever it wants, whenever and wherever it wants. On the contrary, the Israeli government should not use the region’s turmoil as justification for doing nothing to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. Current conditions, though admittedly confusing, can be seen as opening a window of opportunity – a moment to consider making serious sacrifices for the sake of long-term survival.
Israel should be addressing the Arab world in the following terms: “You may not like me, and you may never like me, but I am not – and never should have been – your first concern. Now it is clear that you have other priorities to worry about.”
The Arab quagmire may not be creating conditions for peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. But it has turned the “strategic truce” favored by many Arab leaders into the only conceivable alternative. Arabs cannot be at war with themselves and with Israel at the same time.
The chaotic events unfolding in the Middle East will – and should – change the approach and perceptions of the protagonists. Short-term considerations will not suffice. Israeli leaders must adjust their long-term strategic thinking to the new Middle East that ultimately emerges from the current disarray.
That means not exploiting today’s opportunity to build more settlements on Palestinian land, or to expand existing ones, as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government appears determined to do. Israel may well be the current winner in the Arab Spring; but, if it is wise, it will leave the spoils of victory on the ground.