(Deliberately) Don’t Know Much about History (China Edition)

maxresdefault I am something of a history buff (or at least, I try my best to be), so when someone gets history wrong, I tend to get . . . oh, how to phrase this? . . . annoyed. To be sure, honest mistakes are sometimes made when discussing history, and your humble servant makes those mistakes as well (too often, for your humble servant’s own tastes). But while the occasional error is understandable, when history is deliberately misread for political purposes, then the civilized response to such a misreading is–and ought to be–outrage. [Read more…]

Jonathan Pollard Should Remain in Prison, and the Obama Administration Should Stop Insulting Our Intelligence

Jonathan Pollard Let’s be abundantly clear about something. Jonathan Pollard is a traitor to the United States of America, and should spend the rest of his life paying for his crimes. He inflicted catastrophic damage on American national security, he betrayed the trust of those who thought well of him and gave him access to sensitive intelligence, and if he is at all remorseful about his actions, I have yet to hear of it. And even if I do hear about it, I’ll have no reason whatsoever to believe it. [Read more…]

More Reasons to Dislike the Nuclear Deal with Iran

now-the-really-hard-part-starts-after-landmark-iran-nuclear-deal My desperate attempt to convince myself that the nuclear deal with Iran is a good one is–I am sorry to report–in the process of failing miserably. I wish that I could report otherwise, but alas, those accursed facts keep getting in the way, and keep me from liking this deal.

Oh, don’t think that I will give up on my effort to feel optimistic that the nuclear agreement with Iran is a triumph of American diplomacy. I am not a quitter, after all. But stubborn as I am, and as much as I would like to persevere in my effort to become a fan of the deal, I can see the handwriting on the wall, and that handwriting has produced the following words: “This is a bad deal.” [Read more…]

Quote of the Day

“How can anyone be allowed to paint a swastika on the statue of Marianne, the goddess of French liberty, in the very center of the Place de la République?”

That was what the chairman of one of France’s most celebrated luxury brands was thinking last July, when a tall man in a black shirt and a kaffiyeh leapt to the ledge of Marianne’s pedestal and scrawled a black swastika. All around him, thousands of angry demonstrators were swarming the square with fake rockets, Palestinian and Hamas flags, even the black-and-white banners of ISIS. Here, barely a mile and a half from the Galeries Lafayette, the heart of bourgeois Paris, the chants: “MORT AUX JUIFS! MORT AUX JUIFS!” Death to the Jews. It was Saturday, July 26, 2014, and a pro-Palestinian demonstration turned into a day of terror in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods of the city.

“Do something! Do you see what is happening here?” the chairman said to a line of police officers watching the demonstration build to a frenzy. “What do you expect us to do?” one officer said, then looked away. For years, the chairman, a longtime anti-racism activist, has turned up at rallies like this one to see which politicians and which radical groups were present. (For reasons of personal safety, the chairman asked not to be identified for this story.) France’s endless demonstrations are a mainstay of the republic, a sacred right rooted in the legacy of Voltaire. But hate speech is a criminal offense—people may express their opinions, but not to the extent of insulting others based on their race, religion, or sex. The protest—against Israel’s Gaza policies—had been banned by the government, fearful of violence, following flare-ups in the preceding weeks. But if the police were to move in too quickly, the riots might continue all summer long—suburbs in flames, mobs in central Paris.

Photographs and videos of the swastika and its perpetrator, of protesters chanting “Kill the Jews,” and of the Palestinian, Hamas, and ISIS flags were sent in a rush to various groups in the Jewish community who assess threats. By early afternoon, some of these reached Sammy Ghozlan, a 72-year-old retired police commissioner who has spent his career working the banlieues, the belt of working-class, racially mixed suburbs that surround Paris. Ghozlan is a folk hero of the banlieues and has a nickname that is impossible to forget: le poulet cacher—“the kosher chicken.” (Poulet is slang for cop.) For 15 years, he has overseen France’s National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism—known by its French abbreviation, B.N.V.C.A.—a community hotline he founded that is funded by his police pension and whatever small donations he can come by. Its purpose is nothing less than to protect the Jews of France.

[. . .]

Just two weeks before the July 26 riot, Ghozlan’s texts and messages did not stop. It was Bastille Day weekend, and, on Sunday, July 13, he tracked the hundreds of protesters who rushed into the Marais, Paris’s historic Jewish quarter, stopping briefly at an empty synagogue on the Rue des Tournelles, near the Place des Vosges, and then racing, reportedly with iron bars, axes, and flags, toward the Rue de la Roquette, a boutique-and-café-lined street a few blocks from the apartment of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Their destination was the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue. Inside, the 200 worshippers—including the chief rabbi of Paris—heard the howls from the crowd, estimated to number about 300: “Hitler was right!” “Jews, get out of France!” Audrey Zenouda, a policewoman who happened to be inside the synagogue, called her father, a retired policeman who works with Ghozlan at the B.N.V.C.A. “Do something. We are terrified here.”

“I knew that if anyone could get the police to take action it would be Sammy and the B.N.V.C.A.,” Zenouda later told me. Only six police officers were assigned to be on demonstration duty that day. “We are waiting for the assault police to arrive,” one told a reporter at the scene. After an hour, a counterterrorism force rescued the chief rabbi, but everyone else was left inside, behind doors barricaded from the inside with chairs and tables. Outside, members of a special security patrol and a dozen members of the self-trained Ligue de Défense Juive began chasing off the demonstrators with chairs and tables from nearby cafés, working with a small unit from the security force. Together, it took them three hours to disperse the crowd and safely evacuate the synagogue.

Almost immediately afterward, the reports of the July 13 demonstration would be challenged and debated. The numbers would be skeptically parsed—were there really so many?—and questions would be asked about actions that might have provoked the violence, as if carrying iron bars and axes around central Paris might be normal. In some circles, there were even accusations that the Jews “brought on the behavior,” as they always do.

Marie Brenner. It is worth remembering that certain lunatics actually believe in the nonsensical claim that “anti-Semitism scarcely exists in the West.”

Japan Says Goodbye to Pacifism

Japanese Navy Count me as a supporter of Japan’s decision to cast aside pacifism and to become the military counterweight to China that the United States needs and wants it to be, as well as becoming a country that can provide for its own defense needs without excessive reliance on the United States. To be sure, I don’t want Japan to use this moment to sweep war crimes under the rugs (as it is wont to do much too often, alas), but I do happen to believe that Japan can both become a serious and responsible military power, and at the same time, be cognizant of the lessons of history. At times, Japanese politicians seem determined to make me seem naïve and overly optimistic regarding that last expectation, but for every Japanese public figure who is willing to sweep the lessons of history under the rug, there are a host of other Japanese politicians who are determined to remember, and a Japanese public determined to help in the remembering. More power to that latter group. [Read more…]

Yes, I Most Certainly Have Concerns about the Nuclear Deal with Iran

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I would like to think that the nuclear deal with Iran is a good one. I would like to think that it will succeed and prevent Iran from ever becoming a nuclear power. I would like to think that it will increase regional stability and security, and that in doing so, it will increase global stability and security. I would like to think that those who staff the Obama administration–from the president on down–will be able to point to the agreement decades from now and say “we did good. We made the world safer. We have every reason to be proud.” And I would like to think that Americans and people across the world will have every reason and every justification to agree with such a statement.

But as of this writing, I have my doubts that this is a good deal. [Read more…]

Your Shot and Chaser of the Day (Mitt Romney Continues to Be Vindicated)

Romney Obama 1023

Shot:

Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaeda . . . The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years . . . I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy. But every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong.

That was President Barack Obama in his final presidential debate with Mitt Romney, and yes, the incumbent president of the United States really was that snippy and childish with his opponent, whom he regarded with undisguised contempt despite Romney’s record of . . . you know . . . actually accomplishing things.

Now, here is the chaser, which reveals that while Romney hasn’t “been in a position to actually execute foreign policy,” he actually got Russia right, and the incumbent president of the United States was the one who offered the disastrously wrong opinion: [Read more…]

Another Diplomatic Setback (Saudi Arabia Edition)

Putin and Saudis

We have known for some time that American relations with Saudi Arabia are less than ideal. Despite Barack Obama’s promise back in 2008 that he would cause people the world over–especially those people located within the borders of nation-states allied with the United States–to like us once again (presuming that we were as hated as the current president of the United States and his political friends claim we were), the Obama administration’s charm offensive clearly has not worked when it comes to Saudi Arabia. And while it is bad enough that the Saudis no longer trust us as they once did, it is even worse that they may well be cozying up to the Russians. [Read more…]

Hillary Clinton Has No Business Being President of the United States (A Continuing Series)

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For any other candidate for the highest office in the land, the publication of this story should and would lead to an ignominious exit from the race: [Read more…]

The Democratic Party’s Failure on Trade Policy

Free Trade As anyone who follows the news is aware, Barack Obama’s biggest legislative goal for his second term is to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. He may well get fast-track authority in order to push for passage of the agreement, and the agreement may yet pass. I hope that he does get fast-track authority, and that the agreement passes. But as anyone who follows the news is also aware, the initial attempt to pass fast-track authority failed in the House of Representatives, because Democrats decided to desert and defy a president from their own party: [Read more…]

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