The Mystery of America: An Israeli Perspective

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I don’t know Gideon Levy, but his piece today in Haaretz reads like highly effective paint remover, sheering the shabby veneer of the Bush administration’s absence of strategy in the Middle East. It is one of the most sensible takes on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s trip that I have read — and this ran in Tel Aviv. While Levy is considered by some to be too close to Palestinian players, it does impress me that his views are being…

Hastert’s Contract with America

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See no Evil. Hear no Evil. . . The fact that Republicans in senior leadership positions knew about former Congressman Mark Foley’s interest in under-age Congressional pages and did not encourage him to get counseling or to investigate the content of electronic communications between Foley and these youths shows that the “values agenda” that Karl Rove unleashed during the last election cycle is and was bankrupt. Hastert failed at a moment when leadership was required. He side-stepped a moral decision…

Ban Ki Moon’s North Korea Challenge

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Stephen Handelman has an insightful article on Ban Ki Moon this morning in the Globe and Mail — and not because he quotes some of my blog commentary on Ban. Handelman writes: “I may look soft from the outside,” he has said. “But I have inner strength when it’s really necessary.” The 62-year-old diplomat pointed to his participation in the tense six-party talks over the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula as proof of that fortitude. Critics, however, carp that Mr….

John Bolton and North Korea’s Nukes

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Well, the North Koreans have had their test. John Bolton has a lot of new fuel for his bluster at the UN, but I hope one of these days, folks take a step back and ask how this happened. How can America and its allies so badly fail to secure their political and security objectives — which used to be, in part, to prevent North Korea from acquiring nukes and conducting tests? Bolton failed when he was Under Secretary of…

North Korea Watch: Fishing a Stream? Or Provoking a War?

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The North Korea problem needs management. . .now. While this may sound like a modest incident, it’s very scary. Miscommunication, misunderstanding, escalation, and violence in an already tense situation given North Korea’s seeming determination to hold a nuclear test are possible triggers for a regional conflagration in Northeast Asia. According to the Washington Post: South Korean soldiers fired about 40 shots as a warning after five North Korean soldiers crossed a boundary in the Demilitarized Zone separating the two country’s…

European Parliament Member Alexander Graf Lambsdorff Outlines Middle East Approach

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Yesterday, I hosted a meeting with European Parliament Member Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (and Deputy Chairman of the Free Democracts in the European Parliament) who gave a talk titled: “Europe’s Evolving Stakes in the Middle East.” The meeting was assembled by the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Lambsdorff outlined a sensible strategy for Europe in the Middle East, that still “hoped for” enlightened American engagement in the problems there. But he was skeptical of the ability…

CHALLENGE CHENEY Wherever He Goes: The Handcuffs Are Worth It

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Vice President Cheney’s disregard for America’s system of checks and balances and his huff-and-puff advocacy of unilateral military responses to complex national security challenges has really harmed America’s portfolio of interests. He should be challenged every time and every where he speaks. He should get no easy passes, and Americans should stop giving him laudatory back-drops and applause when he deigns to walk in public view — like he did recently in Denver. According to this report, a man walking…