International Affairs

International Affairs

Haiti vis-à-vis healthcare reform and the bankers

The president's image purveyors were quick to remind us yesterday that he spent a very many hours bouncing between endless White House meetings. His chief executive concentration was constantly switched back and forth from the huge obstacles still confronting the final push for healthcare legislation and, of course, the unimaginable disaster in Haiti.

Surely, as he shuffled from one room to the other, he could not ignore the context, the relative magnitude of each. Maybe we should all take a moment to think about that.

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Ron Christie and amateur hour

We have just finished eight years of amateur hours, so my brother Ron Christie knows whereof he speaks, in a sense.

For example: we should have killed bin Laden at Tora Bora, but didn't, because neocon amateurs had another, mistaken, war to fight. We had won the Afghan war, but neocon amateurs gave that away, too, for which we pay the price very dearly today.

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The value of life

An intriguing moral drama is playing out in Israel. A young Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit, was captured and has been held in seclusion by Hamas for years. Hamas proposes that they exchange the release of Schalit for the release by Israel of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Such a proposed trade would be ludicrous in most civilized places in the world, but Israel has agreed to comparable exchanges in the past.

Those who approved such prior exchanges, and advocate it again now, plead on the basis of humanity. Schalit’s mother argues that her son is the son of Israel and asks, how her country can “lay all the problems of the Middle East on our son’s narrow shoulders.” Placing a unique value on one of Israel’s children is what prompted prior disproportionate exchanges, and reflects admirably on Israel’s policy of humanity.

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Is America the new Tibet? What happened in Copenhagen …

Those who look for meaning in swirling things in the sky will find them, especially on Winter Solstice. But the older rabbis tell us to look beneath the surface to find essentials, and what happened beneath the surface at Copenhagen is worth reporting. It was a modest nightmare, like one of those unsettling dreams like you are walking on the edge of a cliff, or strolling in public to suddenly realize you are naked, or that you go to your office and someone has taken your chair away. That’s what happened to America in Copenhagen. The new world order came together and they forgot to set a chair for Obama.

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Time to take Iran’s nuclear program out

I don’t understand the world’s leadership these days when it comes to Iran and its growing nuclear capabilities.

Check that — I understand Russia and China — they want whatever the West does not want. But setting those totalitarian regimes aside for the moment, is anyone other than perhaps Israel willing to stand up and offer more than diplomatically neutered threats to the Iranians, that if they don’t fix their nuclear program, we will, the military way?

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Sports and nation-building

If the snowstorm grounds your travel this weekend, or you just need a break from the healthcare debate, go see "Invictus," the new film starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon about the 1995 South African rugby team. What’s remarkable about "Invictus" is that it isn't a sports film as much as it’s a nation-building film. The term nation-building recalls America’s failures in Iraq and Afghanistan to establish nationhood from another continent, but this film reminds us that new political orders can emerge with brave national (internal) leadership, even in the darkest and most oppressive corners of the world.

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Fidel hearts Barack

According to The Associated Press (and I am not making this up), Cuba’s dictator loves Barack Obama.

“Fidel Castro appears to have a fascination with the American leader that would make Obama Girl jealous, writing obsessively not only about his politics, but of his youth and vigor. And unlike with past American heads-of-state — he slammed President George W. Bush as a genocidal drunk — Castro seems to genuinely like the fresh face in Washington.”

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In defense of revolutions

The commemorations around the fall of the Berlin Wall this week have reminded us how vital revolutions are to political freedom.

Modern revolutions, which generally involve the overthrow of a kingly form of government and the establishment of a republican form, have dominated history for over the last 200 years. Of course, not all revolutions have played out peacefully like 1989. While revolutions have cast aside repressive governments across the globe, their record in achieving sustained political freedom and prosperity is largely a mixed bag. Revolutions have ushered in equally oppressive regimes and often end up violently swallowing the revolutionary protagonists in civil wars and counter-revolutions.

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Questioning liberals' moral consistency

This piece is also published in The Washington Times.


"Have you no shame? Have you no decency?" That was the question that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked during his important speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 24.

He was referring to the decision of those members of the General Assembly who remained in their seats when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke the day before.

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Lisbon’s second chance

Ireland votes today for the second time in a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty — an agreement to streamline the decisionmaking process in Brussels and further integrate member-states — having turned down the treaty narrowly in 2008.

There are significant disagreements over whether the European Union (EU) project is a worthwhile economic endeavor that is spreading peace, or an inexcusable erosion of democratic accountability and national sovereignty. EU enthusiasts, influenced by Cosmopolitan philosophy, like to believe that the EU is helping to remove “outdated” ideas like loyalty to national governments. While I believe such contentions are farcical, I’ll save the larger argument of what the conception of citizenship ought to be for another day.

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