THE IRAN DELUSION: A primer for the perplexed.
IS ANYBODY SURPRISED? The Israel Defense Forces has just appointed a special team to plan a military strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. Promising to “snap back” sanctions if Iran cheats is likely an empty threat, but Israel’s margin of error is zero.
WORKER’S PARADISE. Cuba has ice cream. They have a chronic shortage of ice cream, but they do have some ice cream.
A couple of non-gullible journalists went down there with a video camera and recorded the state-run ice cream parlor. The line on a Sunday was two hours long. Only one flavor—strawberry—was available. It costs a little more than two dollars for a scoop. That’s more than ten percent of Cuba’s state-imposed Maximum Wage of twenty dollars a month. Such is life when the dictator insists on “socialism or death.”
THE ATLANTIC’S JEFFREY GOLDBERG interviews former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. They argue. A lot. Mostly about Barack Obama. Goldberg says the transcript reads like two Jews yelling at each other on a park bench in Brooklyn, and it does.
EVERYBODY SETTLE DOWN: The Greek debt crisis—the Energizer bunny of debt crises—has stocks plunging around the world as bank lines grow in Athens, but Walter Russell Mead argues that it won’t necessarily be a disaster if Greece abandons the Euro.
A Greek exit may end up strengthening the credibility of the euro by removing the one member that all agree should never have been allowed to join in the first place.
FRANCO STILL DEAD, IRAN STILL A STATE SPONSOR OF TERRORISM. The State Department released a report accurately describing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The White House has yet to fully address why an Iranian government, when it receives the estimated $150 billion windfall from unfrozen assets that’s to follow sanctions relief plus the benefits of reopened trade, will not significantly increase its terror-sponsorship in the short term.
That is a bit of a hitch. Any “deal” that Washington and Tehran might theoretically cobble together won’t even begin to address this. The Iranian regime wouldn’t even sign it, let alone honor it.
A NEW REFERENDUM IN MOSCOW. Muscovites may soon vote in their first referendum since the collapse of the Soviet Union. One of the issues they’ll be deciding is whether or not they should re-install a statue of the monstrous idealogue Iron Felix who founded the Cheka, the secret police that later became the KGB.
Here’s to hoping it goes down in a landslide, but if they think that sort of thing is a good idea, they deserve what they’re going to get. They’ll be giving Vladimir Putin permission to crank up the whole operation all over again. (Not that he needs their permission.)
A MAYORAL CAMPAIGN OF HATE. George Galloway, the loudmouth former member of Britain’s parliament who declared the town of Bradford an “Israel-free zone,” is running for mayor of London.
FASTER, PLEASE. Syrian Kurds are closing in on the ISIS capital in Raqqa. They were initially concerned with just reclaiming and holding onto their territory, but offense is often the best defense, and it looks like they’re up to the job. If we want to back proxies over there, forget whatever’s left of the Free Syrian Army. The Kurds are it.
WHAT THE FUSS IS ALL ABOUT. You may have heard that Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, is stirring up megacontroversies with his new book, Ally, about the relationship between the Jewish state and America, and for his comments on President Barack Obama.
I know him personally and have read his first two books, Six Days of War, and Power, Faith and Fantasy. He appears in my own book, The Road to Fatima Gate. I can vouch for him as a brilliant historian and an eminently reasonable person. He’s precisely the kind of individual you’d want as a diplomat.
But don’t take my word for it. Read what he has to say for yourself, starting with his essay in Foreign Policy magazine.
Understanding Obama’s worldview was crucial to my job as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Right after entering office in June 2009, I devoted months to studying the new president, poring over his speeches, interviews, press releases, and memoirs, and meeting with many of his friends and supporters. The purpose of this self-taught course — Obama 101, I called it — was to get to the point where the president could no longer surprise me. And over the next four years I rarely was, especially on Muslim and Middle Eastern issues.
One need not wallow in silly conspiracy theories like Obama being a secret Muslim (Oren certainly doesn’t) to write something that’s critical, reasonable, and accurate. We all have our flaws and our blind spots. That includes every president we’ve ever had, even the current one.
BABY KILLERS: ISIS crucifies two children for eating during Ramadan when they were supposed to be fasting.
I have no idea how many people strictly observe Ramadan in the Syrian hinterlands when the threat of crucifixion doesn’t hang over their heads. I lived in Beirut during Ramadan, though. Restaurants were a little less busy, but plenty of people were eating. And I lived on the Muslim side of the city, not the Christian side.
CHINA’S DOG MEAT FESTIVAL is raising hackles inside and outside of China.
“There are all sorts of cultural norms about what you can eat, you eat turkey, so why are you trying to force us to not eat dog meat?” shouted one dog meat supporter.
“It’s healthy, just like raising pigs or chickens, it’s fine,” said Teng Jianyi, as he tucked into a dog dish with some friends.
These things really are relative. Some in India are appalled that the rest of us eat cows. So how about a compromise? We won’t tell you to stop eating dogs if you won’t tell us to stop being horrified that you eat dogs.
IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE SOME KIND OF A JOKE? Beijing insists that its controversial expansion into the South China Sea is simply to acquire better weather forecasts.
TURKEY’S CREEPJOB OF A PRIME MINISTER is furious about Kurdish gains against ISIS in Syria.
He’s not on board with ISIS ideologically, but he’s more freaked out by Kurdish indepenence right now than anything else since roughly 25 percent of Turkey’s population is Kurdish. From his point of view, ISIS is the lesser of evils. President Obama says he expects “deeper cooperation” from Turkey, but even he must know at this late date that we are not going to get it.
TOURISM IN CUBA. Graham Flanagan went to Cuba as a tourist and produced a short video for Business Insider about the four problems Americans will face when they go down there. There’s no Internet, the tap water isn’t safe to drink, few people speak English, and credit cards aren’t accepted anywhere, not even at banks.
He still had a great time, but I found the place soul-crushing. Unlike him, I went to Cuba as a journalist and was duty-bound to leave the tourist bubble and see what Castro’s socialist paradise is really like.
If you want to go down there and have fun like he did, knock yourself out. If you want an educational experience, however, you’ll need to wander out of that bubble. Just be prepared. It isn’t pretty.
THANKS, GLENN, for giving us the keys to Instapundit for a week, and thanks to the rest of you for not shooting too many spitwads at the substitute teachers.