Senator Markey has announced his support for the Iran deal that will let the terrorist regime inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism and have a near zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb.
There was no surprise there.
Markey had topped the list of candidates supported by the Iran Lobby. And the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) had maxed out its contributions to his campaign.
After more fake suspense, Al Franken, another IAPAC backed politician who also benefited from Iran Lobby money, came out for the nuke sellout.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Iran Lobby’s third Dem senator, didn’t bother playing coy like her colleagues. She came out for the deal a while back even though she only got half the IAPAC cash that Franken and Markey received.
As did Senator Gillibrand, who had benefited from IAPAC money back when she first ran for senator and whose position on the deal should have come as no surprise.
The Iran Lobby had even tried, and failed, to turn Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. Iran Lobby cash had made the White House count on him as the Republican who would flip, but Flake came out against the deal. The Iran Lobby invested a good deal of time and money into Schumer, but that effort also failed.
Still these donations were only the tip of the Iran Lobby iceberg.
Gillibrand had also picked up money from the Iran Lobby’s Hassan Nemazee. Namazee was Hillary’s national campaign finance director who had raised a fortune for both her and Kerry before pleading guilty to a fraud scheme encompassing hundreds of millions of dollars. Nemazee had been an IAPAC trustee and had helped set up the organization.
Bill Clinton had nominated Hassan Nemazee as the US ambassador to Argentina when he had only been a citizen for two years. A spoilsport Senate didn’t allow Clinton to make a member of the Iran Lobby into a US ambassador, but Nemazee remained a steady presence on the Dem fundraising circuit.
Nemazee had donated to Gillibrand and had also kicked in money to help the Franken Recount Fund scour all the cemeteries for freshly dead votes, as well as to Barbara Boxer, who also came out for the Iran nuke deal. Boxer had also received money more directly from IAPAC.
In the House, the Democratic recipients of IAPAC money came out for the deal. Mike Honda, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Iran Lobby backed the nuke sellout. As did Andre Carson, Gerry Connolly, Donna Edwards and Jackie Speier. The Iran Lobby was certainly getting its money’s worth.
But the Iran Lobby’s biggest wins weren’t Markey or Shaheen. The real victory had come long before when two of their biggest politicians, Joe Biden and John Kerry, had moved into prime positions in the administration. Not only IAPAC, but key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both men.
That list includes Housang Amirahmadi, the founder of the American Iranian Council, who had spoken of a campaign to “conquer Obama’s heart and mind” and had described himself as “the Iranian lobby in the United States.” It includes the Iranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN) board members who had fundraised for Biden. And it includes the aforementioned Hassan Nemazee.
A member of Iran’s opposition had accused Biden’s campaigns of being “financed by Islamic charities of the Iranian regime based in California and by the Silicon Iran network.” Biden’s affinity for the terrorist regime in Tehran was so extreme that after 9/11 he had suggested, “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran”.
Appeasement inflation has since raised that $200 million to at least $50 billion. But there are still no strings worth mentioning attached to the big check.
Questions about donations from the Iran Lobby had haunted Kerry’s campaign. Back then Kerry had been accused of supporting an agreement favorable to Iran. The parameters of that controversial proposal however were less generous than the one that Obama and Kerry are trying to sell now.
The hypothetical debates over the influence of the Iran Lobby have come to a very real conclusion.
Both of Obama’s secretaries of state were involved in Iran Lobby cash controversies, as was his vice president and his former secretary of defense. Obama was also the beneficiary of sizable donations from the Iran Lobby. Akbar Ghahary, the former co-founder of IAPAC, had donated and raised some $50,000 for Obama.
It’s an unprecedented track record that has received very little notice. While the so-called “Israel Lobby” is constantly scrutinized, the fact that key foreign policy positions under Obama are controlled by political figures with troubling ties to an enemy of this country has gone mostly unreported by the mainstream media.
This culture of silence allowed the Iran Lobby to get away with taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times before the Netanyahu speech asking, “Will Congress side with our President or a Foreign Leader?”
Iran’s stooges had taken a break from lobbying for ballistic missiles to play American patriots.
Obama and his allies, Iranian and domestic, have accused opponents of his dirty Iran deal of making “common cause” with that same terror regime and of treason. The ugly truth is that he and his political accomplices were the traitors all along.
Democrats in favor of a deal that will let a terrorist regime go nuclear have taken money from lobbies for that regime. They have broken their oath by taking bribes from a regime whose leaders chant, “Death to America”. Their pretense of examining the deal is nothing more than a hollow charade.
This deal has come down from Iran Lobby influenced politicians like Kerry and is being waved through by members of Congress who have taken money from the Iran Lobby. That is treason plain and simple.
Despite what we are told about its “moderate” leaders, Iran considers itself to be in a state of war with us. Iran and its agents have repeatedly carried out attacks against American soldiers, abducted and tortured to death American officials and have even engaged in attacks on American naval vessels.
Aiding an enemy state in developing nuclear weapons is the worst form of treason imaginable. Helping put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists is the gravest of crimes.
The Democrats who have approved this deal are turning their party into a party of atom bomb spies.
Those politicians who have taken money from the Iran Lobby and are signing off on a deal that will let Iran go nuclear have engaged in the worst form of treason and committed the gravest of crimes. They must know that they will be held accountable. That when Iran detonates its first bomb, their names will be on it.
As I've said all along, same sex marriage opens the door to polygamy and the destruction of the nuclear family which is the foundation of our culture. Robert P. George writes in The American Interest:
The Youngs are women in a committed relationship who love and care for and look after each other. They share domestic duties and financial responsibilities. They share a bed and make love. They have a child (courtesy of sperm donation and in vitro fertilization) and intend to have two more. They were united in a ceremony in which they wore beautiful white wedding gowns and were walked down the aisle by their fathers. They are just like any ordinary Massachusetts opposite- or same-sex married couple. Only they’re not a couple. Doll, Kitten, and Brinn Young are a throuple. And, for now at least, Massachusetts, like other states, does not recognize as marriages “polyamorous” unions (romantic partnerships of three or more persons).But Doll, Kitten, and Brinn think that’s unfair and should change. They want marriage equality for themselves and other polyamorists. They are proud that their home state was in the vanguard of legally recognizing same-sex partnerships as marriages, thanks to the bold intervention of the liberal-dominated Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. But they insist that the same principles that generated what they and most liberals (and, it seems, more than a few conservatives) believe to be “marriage equality” for gays should produce the same result for other sexual minorities, especially polyamorous people like themselves.
If gender doesn’t matter for marriage, they ask, why should number matter? “If love makes a family”, as the slogan went when the cause being advanced was gay marriage, then why should their family be treated as second class? Why should their marriage be denied legal recognition and the dignity and social standing that come with it? Doll, Kitten, and Brinn love each other and are as committed to each other and their child and future children as are, say, Donald Trump and his third wife, or Elton John and his husband. They find fulfillment in their long-term sexual partnership, just as opposite- and same-sex couples find fulfillment in theirs. The dignity of their relationship, not to mention their own personal dignity, is assaulted, they believe, when their marriage is treated as inferior and unworthy of legal recognition. Their child and future children are stigmatized by laws that refuse to treat their parents as married. And to what end? How does it harm the marriage of, say, John and Harold, the couple next door, if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizes the Youngs’ marriage? Indeed, what justification can be given—what legitimate state interest can be cited—for dishonoring Doll, Kitten, and Brinn and their marriage? Surely, the only explanation, apart from religious scruples of the sort that may not constitutionally be imposed by the State, is animus and a bare desire to harm people who are different?
Over the past couple of years, a number of mainstream websites, newspapers, and magazines—Salon, Slate, USA Today, Newsweek, the Atlantic—have run sympathetic stories about polyamory. Newsweek reports that, though polyamory remains unconventional, it is far from unheard of: there are approximately 500,000 polyamorous households in the United States today. Polygamous and polyamorous relationships, often with children in the picture, are depicted as just one more historically misunderstood way of being a family—and those who enter such relationships as an often-victimized minority. The polyamorous partners profiled in the stories sometimes weave discussion of the ordinary challenges and simple joys of domestic life—dealing with disagreements, getting the kids to do their homework or practice the piano, celebrating birthdays and other special occasions—together with peek-a-boo accounts of what it’s like for throuples or larger polyamorous units to share a bed and have sex.
Last month, the New York Timespublished an essay by University of Chicago law professor William Baude urging readers to keep their minds open towards polygamy and other multiple-partner sexual relationships. He noted that they could have some advantages over monogamous partnerships—for example, more parents available to look after the kids and share other domestic duties—and he easily identified the weaknesses in anti-polygamy arguments made by writers like Richard Posner, who support redefining marriage to include same-sex partnerships but want to draw the line there. “We should remember”, Baude observed, “that today’s showstopping objections sometimes come to seem trivial decades later. Very few people supported a constitutional right to same-sex marriage when writers like Andrew Sullivan and [Jonathan]Rauch were advocating it only two decades ago. (Judge Posner, for example, did not.) As we witness more experiments with non-nuclear families, our views about plural marriage might change as well.”
Many polyamorous people say that their desire or felt need for multiple partners is central to their identity, and that they have known from an early age that they could never find personal and sexual fulfillment in a purely monogamous relationship. The message is that they are the next sexual minority whose human rights, including of course the right to marriage equality, must be honored. They’re following the same playbook as same-sex marriage advocates in mainstreaming polyamory and putting in place the cultural predicates for its legal recognition. And it’s working. In the most recent polling, fully a quarter of Americans are now prepared to recognize polyamorous marriages, and among religiously unaffiliated citizens (whose numbers are climbing in the United States) the figure is 58 percent. These percentages represent far higher support than gay marriage had within the memory of more than a few readers of this essay.
For years, of course, many advocates of sexual freedom and same-sex marriage counseled against openly advocating polyamory—whether in the form of polygyny (one husband having several wives) or in the form of group bonds like the Youngs’—lest the horses be frightened. But not everyone listened. University of Arizona professor Elizabeth Brake, for example, a prominent advocate in the world of academic philosophy for broadening the historic understanding of marriage, has for many years promoted what she calls “minimal marriage”, in which “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties, the type of relationship involved, and which rights and responsibilities to exchange with each.” Judith Stacey—a New York University professor who is in no way regarded as a fringe figure—also let the cat out of the bag in the course of testifying before Congress against the Defense of Marriage Act. She expressed hope that redefining marriage would give it “varied, creative, and adaptive contours . . . [leading some to] question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek . . . small group marriages.” Indeed, as far back as a decade ago, in a statement then titled “Beyond Gay Marriage”, more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates called for legally recognizing as marriages or the equivalent sexual relationships involving more than two partners. Among the signatories were such influential figures on the left as Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Kenji Yoshino.
These and other open advocates of polyamory and its legal recognition now look like they were ahead of their time. With USA Today, Newsweek, and other respected publications sympathetically presenting polyamory, more and more polyamorists and allies of their cause will feel safer coming out. The politicians aren’t there yet, of course, but in this late season of our experience we all know that they are almost always among the last to arrive at the party. Soon enough, a small number will break the ice, just as they did on same-sex marriage. They will, to use President Obama’s famous description of his own flip-flop on same-sex marriage, “evolve.”
The late and extraordinarily influential legal philosopher and constitutional theorist Ronald Dworkin, a champion of aggressive judicial action to advance liberal causes, taught that law is fundamentally about a society making commitments to certain moral principles and working out their implications over time. Fundamental to that enterprise is treating like cases alike. The heart of the case for same-sex marriage was that gender differences are irrelevant to what marriage actually is, namely, a form of committed sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership. The challenge for same-sex marriage supporters is either to accept polyamory on the basis of the very same vision of marriage, or to offer a new and more specific vision—one that can explain why number is relevant but gender is not.
Even as an increasing number of “marriage equality” supporters agree that the time for recognition of polyamorous marriages has come, some still try to avoid that challenge. Only a few same-sex marriage supporters have been willing to take the latter course and hold the line against polygamy as a matter of principle—to say “gender doesn’t matter, but number does: marriage is, as a matter of principle, a two-person partnership; so unions of three or more persons ought to be denied the dignity of legal recognition.” The trouble for those in this last category is that they can’t come up with anything approaching a plausible argument. They either try to make something out of the alleged “fact” that homosexuality is a “sexual orientation” but polyamory is not, or they point to practical difficulties in administering principles of family law for partnerships involving more than two people. Occasionally, you will hear an advocate of gay marriage who opposes polyamory say “a person cannot fully give himself or herself to two people as he or she can to one person.” And even more rarely someone will suggest that polyamorous unions are not psychologically or morally appropriate for bringing up children.
From the perspective of polyamorous people and their allies, all of these arguments are weak to the point of being contemptible—thin rationalizations for excluding them from a recognition and status that others in relevantly similar relationships are given. For poly people, being poly is as central to their identity—and being in polyamorous relationships is as vital to their fulfillment—as being gay and being in a same-sex partnership is for persons who are sexually or romantically attracted to persons of the same-sex. Polyamorists object to being the sexual minority that gets thrown under the bus, forced to settle for a relationship that fails to fulfill them or respond to who they are, or denied the social support and legal recognition that others’ relationships receive.
As for practical problems, they note that modern law in a wide variety of areas deals with complexities far greater than those that the legal recognition of Doll, Kitten, and Brinn Young’s marriage would pose. Administrative burdens are, they observe, no basis at all for denying them the basic civil right to marry. And they find it insulting when non-poly people claim that being polyamorous is not central to their identity and fulfillment, or assume that people like Doll, Kitten, and Brinn cannot give themselves as fully to each other as gay or straight monogamous people do. Based on their personal experience and what they know from the experience of other poly people, they also reject the view that being in a multiple-partner union increases the likelihood of marital problems arising from jealousy. To them, this is stereotyping, sheer prejudice, dressed up in scientific garb.
Finally, they do not buy the idea that polyamory would unavoidably or, in the modern world, even frequently lead to women’s subordination. In any event, why should their rights to be who they are and to have their relationship honored and their children protected be held hostage to a fear that other people will conduct their marriages in morally bad or psychologically unhealthy ways? If forms of patriarchy that were common in the past provide reasons to limit marriage, they equally provide reasons to abolish marriage altogether.
Of course, the case for polyamory and its legal recognition presupposes that marriage is in fact what so-called “marriage equality” advocates have depicted it as being: committed sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership. And this is precisely what has been denied by defenders of what used to be known as “marriage” and is now called “traditional marriage” (i.e., as the union of husband and wife). Those defenders are most assuredly right when they say that the new idea of marriage is an innovation—not an “expansion” of marriage but a genuine redefinition, one that treats what has historically been regarded as a relevant difference, namely sex or gender, as if it were irrelevant, not central to the very idea and social purposes of marriage.
In our law and culture, marriage has historically been understood as a conjugal union in which a man and woman consent to unite in a bond that is (1) founded on their sexual-reproductive complementarity, (2) consummated and renewed by acts that unite them as a reproductive unit (“one flesh”) by fulfilling the behavioral conditions of procreation (whether or not the non-behavioral conditions happen to obtain); and (3) specially apt for, and would naturally be fulfilled by, their having and rearing children together. Participating in marriage as a conjugal union is regarded as inherently humanly fulfilling, i.e., valuable not merely as a means to something else—even the great good of having and rearing children—but in itself.
The idea of marriage as a conjugal union explains the structuring features of marriage in our moral and legal traditions, including (1) the rules of consummation (including annulability for non-consummation, but not for infertility); (2) the requirements of (a) monogamy, (b) sexual exclusivity (fidelity), and (c) permanence of commitment (“till death do us part”); and (3) the treatment of marriage as a properly public matter, something that law can and should recognize, support, and regulate, and not a merely private or religious matter, like baptisms, bar mitzvahs, and ordinary friendships (even the closest and most intimate).
This understanding of marriage is radically different from the revisionist conception that one must adopt if sexual-reproductive complementarity is irrelevant to marriage. According to revisionists, marriage is essentially a union at the affective level. What sets it apart is a certain emotional bond. It unites partners in an especially close or intense form of friendship, one which ordinarily involves sex but just as a way of fostering and expressing affection. Sex is thus, strictly speaking, incidental, not inherent, to the relationship. The same is true, of course, of procreation—it is merely incidental. In the words of John Corvino, a leading philosophical defender of the revisionist view, marriage is “your relationship with your Number One person.”
The conjugal idea of marriage, by contrast, conceives of persons as unities of body and mind, and of marriage as uniting spouses at all levels of their being: the biological as well as the affective and rational-dispositional. Acts of bodily union fulfilling the behavioral conditions of procreation are the distinctive completion and seal of this uniquely comprehensive union. These acts don’t just produce feelings of intimacy; they literally embody the spouses’ marital union by making them a biological (sexual-reproductive) unit.
Sex is thus integral to marriage, which is part of what distinguishes marriage from other forms of companionship. All friendships are unions of hearts and mind; marriage, however, is a union not only at that level, but at the bodily—biological—level as well. It is not distinguished from ordinary friendships, as on the revisionist view, merely by its degree of emotional intensity, but in kind. It is not accurately understood as “your relationship with your Number One person.”
As a conjugal relationship, rather, marriage is the type of bond that is ordered to procreation and would naturally be fulfilled by spouses having and rearing children together. On the conjugal understanding, marriage is the relationship that unites a man and woman as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children who may come of their union. Its social role is to maximize the chances that children will grow up in the context of the committed love—the matrimonial bond—of the man and woman whose actualization and renewal of that bond brought them life, linked to their parents and to their parents’ families. It ensures that as many children as possible will be reared with the advantages of both maternal and paternal role models, influences, and care.
The revisionist challenge, especially as a result of the sexual revolution and its mainstreaming of non-marital sex and cohabitation, out-of wedlock child bearing, and divorce (especially with the introduction of “no fault” divorce), has eroded the public understanding and support of marriage as conjugal union, though this vision has not been completely lost. The erosion helps to explain why an idea that was quite literally inconceivable as recently as a generation ago—the idea of “same-sex marriage”—has not only suddenly become intelligible to but indeed overwhelmingly dominant among cultural elites. For many cultural elites, it is now the traditional conception of marriage—the idea of marriage as a conjugal union—that is unintelligible, to be explained only by animus, prejudice, or antiquated religious dogmas.
Of course, if marriage is distinguished mainly by its emotional intensity, then there really is no reason that two men or two women cannot marry. Any two people, after all, can feel romantic affection for each other, commit to providing support and care for each other in a shared domestic life, and believe that their relationship is enhanced by mutually agreeable sex acts with each other. But so can three men. Or three women, say, Doll, Kitten, and Brinn. Or a man and two women (whether the three are united as a polyamorous ensemble, or the man is in separate marriages with each woman). Or a woman and two men. Or four people. Or whatever.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, five justices of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, claimed to find in the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment the revisionist understanding of marriage. Now, the actual words of the clause—“No state shall deprive any person within its jurisdiction of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”—seem to be all about justice in criminal cases or in analogous civil or administrative actions. States may not execute someone (depriving him of life), imprison someone (depriving him of liberty), or subject someone to a monetary fine or forfeiture (depriving him of property) without affording him such basic procedural protections as the presumption of innocence, an impartial judge and jury, and so forth. But the Supreme Court instead followed a long, if notoriously intellectually dubious, tradition of reading this clause “substantively” to include unenumerated rights that enough justices believe people should enjoy. Thus Kennedy, joined by Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, announced the discovery of a right to same-sex marriage that would certainly have shocked the Americans of the late 1860s who ratified the 14th Amendment—and even Americans of the 1960s, for all their sexual-revolutionary pretensions.
For Kennedy, the conjugal understanding of marriage had to be jettisoned in favor of the revisionist conception because the dignity of persons who construct their identities around same-sex attraction and find their fulfillment in same-sex partnerships requires it. This dignity is conferred by the state and is, in effect, withheld when the state treats marriage as a conjugal union rather than as sexual-romantic companionship.
Lacking any warrant in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution—or even any clear and disciplined engagement with other court cases, right or wrong—Kennedy’s opinion merits the condemnation that John Hart Ely, the late Dean of Stanford Law School (and himself a pro-choice liberal) heaped on Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion in Roe v. Wade: “It is not constitutional law and gives no sense of an obligation to try to be.” The four dissenting Justices in Obergefell—Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito—had no difficulty skewering, even ridiculing, Kennedy and the majority for failing to identify an even remotely plausible constitutional ground for their decision. Whatever one’s beliefs about the comparative merits of the conjugal and revisionist conceptions of marriage, it is difficult to see how the Constitution can be said to have dictated a choice. In the tradition of Dred Scott v. Sandford, Lochner v. New York, and, to be sure, Roe v. Wade, the decision is a straightforward play by a Supreme Court majority to usurp the authority of the people acting through representatives (and directly, in state referenda). It unconstitutionally imposes on the nation the beliefs of five unelected, unrepresentative men and women about what counts as social progress.
But lay all that aside for now. I introduce the case because it forces us to focus on the logical implications of abolishing the conjugal understanding of marriage in our law and replacing it with the revisionist idea of marriage as sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership, all by judicial fiat. Here is where Professor Dworkin’s point about the centrality of principle to law has its significance for the cause of polyamory, at least for his fellow liberals who approve of the role assumed by the judiciary in cases such as Roe and Obergefell. Where the same principle requires it, he who says A must say B. And he who says that the judiciary has the power to dictate A must say that the judiciary has the power to dictate B, even if B doesn’t yet share A’s popularity and even if the people’s representatives in the legislature say no to B. The constitutional case for the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage requires belief that the Constitution—somewhere, somehow (perhaps lurking in “penumbras formed by emanations”)—incorporates the idea of marriage as sexual-romantic companionship. But if it does, then there can be no reason of principle for withholding legal recognition from the marriage or marriages of, say, Yemeni immigrants or fundamentalist Mormons who are in polygamous partnerships, or polyamorous people like the Youngs. To observe that 75 percent of the public still opposes legal recognition of such marriages is only to highlight the need for the courts to intervene to vindicate the marriage equality rights of those in multiple-party relationships—people who cannot count on their fellow citizens to treat like cases alike when it comes to sexual partnerships that they happen disapprove of on moral or religious grounds.
By constitutionalizing the issue—by purporting to find a certain vision of marriage in the Constitution—the Court eliminated the possibility of accommodations and compromises in the political process. By its own lights, the question is no longer properly left to the moral or political judgments of the people or the vagaries of democratic bargaining. As a matter of constitutional principle, it is an all-or-nothing game—a game that only judges are permitted to play. The American people have been told by the Obergefell majority to watch from the bleachers.
If Obergefell stands—and, for what it’s worth, I myself hope it will not—the question of legal recognition of polygamous and other polyamorous partnerships cannot be avoided. The arguments of those who want to retain the idea of marriage as mere sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership while denying legal recognition of polyamorous marriages will sound weaker and weaker, more and more like mere rationalizations for stigmatizing what many people (for now, at least) still find icky. Under the pressure of the natural human desire for rational consistency, the liberal movement and the Democratic Party will gradually come to embrace the polyamorists’ cause. And liberal jurists, though they may swat away on procedural grounds the first few constitutional challenges to marriage laws excluding polyamorists’ romantic bonds from recognition, will eventually have to say B.
Will there be a C? Sure. That will likely be the abolition of laws against consensual adult incest (parent-child or sibling) and, correspondingly, the elimination of consanguinity laws forbidding marriage between a parent and his or her adult child and between adult siblings. Western Europe was a bit ahead of the U.S. on same-sex marriage, and is now pointing the way forward for sexual liberals on incest as well. Germany’s National Ethics Council this year issued a report urging parliament to revoke legal prohibitions of incest involving consenting adults, arguing that these prohibitions violate “fundamental freedoms” and “force people into secrecy or to deny their love.” The Council described opposition to consensual adult incest as a mere “social taboo”, and declared that “neither the fear of negative consequences for the family, nor the possibility of the birth of children from such incestuous relationships can justify a criminal prohibition. The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination has more weight in such cases than the abstract protection of the family.”
If one grants the premises of sexual liberalism—that consenting adults have a right to enter into whatever types of sexual relationships they like without state interference—and embraces the revisionist conception of marriage as committed sexual-romantic companionship, then what the German Ethics Council says has to be correct. Its logic is impeccable. If there is a flaw, it must be in the premises. And yet the premises are precisely the ones that have been adopted by the liberal movement and the Democratic Party in our time. So C will come in due course, unless A is abandoned.
Elizabeth Brake, “Minimal Marriage: What Political Liberalism Implies for Marriage Law”, Ethics 120 (2010): 303.
 See Gallagher, “(How) Will Gay Marriage Weaken Marriage as a Social Institution”, 62.
 According to the conjugal understanding, marriage is a uniquely comprehensive union. It involves a union of hearts and minds; but also—and distinctively—a bodily union. Just as bodily union within a person consists in coordination of all the parts for a single bodily end of the whole (survival), so bodily union between two people involves coordination (coitus) toward a single bodily end of the couple as a whole (their reproduction). Hence marriage, the bond embodied by that act, is inherently extended and enriched by procreation and family life and objectively calls for similarly all-encompassing commitment, permanent and exclusive. In short, marriage unites a man and woman holistically—emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life. For a fuller account, and a response to criticisms advanced by revisionists against the conjugal understanding (such as the claim that the conjugal view cannot rationally justify its historic willingness to recognize as valid the marriage of a man and woman who, due to infertility, cannot conceive children together), see Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George, What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (Encounter Books, 2013).
 That is why they are not content with merely revising the law to enshrine “same-sex marriage”; anti-discrimination statutes and ordinances as well as well as informal cultural means (shaming, ridiculing, hounding) must be used to crush those who dissent from the new orthodoxy. We see that conviction at work in the fates of the photographers, bakers, and florists who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings, the counseling student who declined to train to counsel same-sex couples, the fire chief of Atlanta who wrote a book defending biblical teachings on marriage and sexual morality, and Brendan Eich, the technology genius who was pressured to give up the top job at Mozilla because he had contributed to a pro-traditional marriage referendum in California.
Nearly 200 Former Generals and Admirals Sign Letter Opposing Iran Nuke Deal
FormerMarine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak
Nearly 200 former generals and admirals signed a letter sent to Congress rejecting the Obama nuclear pact with Iran. Many general and flag officers served under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Among them are former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under President Bush Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, USAF Lt. Gen. Tom McInerny and former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak.The letter adressed to both House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders rebuts one sent a week ago by 33 generals and admirals supporting the President's nuclear deal with Iran. We hope that Gen. Barry McCaffrey signed up given his rejection of the opportunity to support the Iran deal. According to the Washington Post (WP):
The letter faulted the JCPOA for not cutting off “every pathway” Iran has to develop nuclear weapons, as well as for allowing Tehran to benefit from billions in sanctions relief, which may be used to “continue to support terrorism in Israel, throughout the Middle East and globally, whether directly or through proxies.”
The full text of the letter can be found on the WPwebsite:
This agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the
Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies.
The WP noted comments from retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerny, former vice commander of US Air Forces in Europe:
He considers the agreement the most dangerous nuclear accord in U.S. history.
“What I don’t like about this is, the number one leading radical Islamic group in the world is the Iranians,” he said. “They are purveyors of radical Islam throughout the region and throughout the world. And we are going to enable them to get nuclear weapons. Why would we do that?”
McInerney said he thinks that most retired general officers do not support the agreement, but he said some did not sign the letter because they feared negative career repercussions.
“I don’t think the retired general officers necessarily speak with one voice,” he said. “We’ve all gone our own way when we retired.”
Note what the Washington Postreported about author of this letter and his motivation to get it circulated:
Leon A. “Bud” Edney, a retired admiral who served as vice chief of naval operations, initiated the letter after he read the letter by other retired officers in support of the agreement.
“I looked at the letter they published, and thought it was very weak,” Edney said. “I just don’t agree with it.” He then got the alternative viewpoint rolling through e-mails sent to some of his Navy and Marine friends. They in turn passed it on.
Earlier this month, retired general Charles Krulak, the former commandant of the Marine Corps, commented that out of the many retired officers who could have signed the letter supporting the deal, “only 30+ could be found to do so."
Speaking before the Birmingham, Alabama Jewish Federation in mid-August Gen Krulak said:
I don’t think there is much value in repeating that rationale other than to say that we went into this process with specific goals as a baseline and came out with many of those goals either partially achieved or not achieved at all. Even those partially achieved are, at the end of the day, dependent on Iran acting like a trustworthy member of the world community. I am unable to bet the safety of my Country or the State of Israel or any other country for that matter on the trustworthiness of Iran. In all fairness, there are others who disagree and do so with great passion and belief in their point of view. I respect their beliefs and do not, for a minute, minimize them. …
At the same time, I am very concerned that not enough focus is being placed on what I would call “the day after tomorrow” if the JCPOA is adopted. What steps will be taken, at the strategic level, to safeguard our Nation and the State of Israel beyond all the supposed safeguards found in the JCPOA? What are the unintended consequences of the JCPOA on the Nations within the region? What can we reasonably expect to happen as new oil begins to flow from well heads in Iran? Or when sanctions are lifted and billions of dollars flow into the coffers of the largest exporter of terrorism in the world? Or when weapons are sold on the open market? Or when other countries, concerned about the potential of a nuclear Iran, start their own programs?
The Tower noted other veterans forming groups to reject the Iran nuclear deal:
A number of Iraq war veterans recently formed a group to oppose the JCPOA. Michael Pregent, the executive director of the group, Veterans Against the Deal, said, “Our main argument is that veterans know Iran better than Washington, D.C., does. You’ve got a lot of veterans out there who are pretty upset about this, so we are looking to capture their voices and make sure they are heard.”
A recent article in the French newspaper Le Monde drew attention to an important difference between the French and the Germans. The French, said the author, think that the government spends other people’s money; the Germans think that the government spends their own money. This, if true, is important because each attitude must affect the politics as well as the economic policy of its respective country.
How could such a difference arise? Is it accountable by the fact that a higher percentage of Germans than French pay income tax? (In France, half the population pays none.) Income tax is the most obvious form of tax, and if you don’t pay it you may be under the absurd impression that you pay no tax at all. But if something can be bought or sold, done or not done, the chances are that it is taxed.
Income tax is in fact but a small proportion of government receipts, though it is popularly taken as a metonym for taxation as a whole; and it would be interesting to know whether the Germans have a more accurate knowledge than the French of how much of the price of a gallon of fuel, for example, or of a packet of cigarettes is accounted for by tax. If people had an accurate knowledge of such matters, they might be less inclined to accuse the oil companies of greed when they raise their prices by what is a tiny fraction of the total that the customer will pay; but in any case, in France there seems to be a cultural predisposition to assume that while private profit is reprehensible, public expenditure paid for by tax is inherently good. Paradoxically, this does not preclude in France a private avidity for money or a belief that cheating or deceiving the taxman is a proper sport, like cycling or swimming, for everyone to indulge in. If this is a contradiction – well, which of us is entirely consistent?
And, to add complication to paradox, it must be admitted that the French, by comparison with the British, say, receive good value for their taxation. The country is conspicuously well-administered, as anyone who has driven through it will attest; and, in my experience, French bureaucrats, however much their onerous and Byzantine exactions may be detested, are much more intelligent and efficient than British ones. The French have a faith in their state which is in part justified. Its benefits are obvious every day; its stultifying effects are less evident except to the smaller proportion of the population that attempts something new.
The Germans, by contrast, have, or want to have, faith in their currency. The folk memory of inflations is still strong in Germany and with reason. Inflation is their bugbear and fiscal rectitude therefore their policy, irrespective of who is in power. The rebuilding of the country and the achievement of monetary stability is their source of national pride. Financial rectitude is visible in their private lives as well: the Germans use credit cards far less than the French, let alone the British. When the German banks joined in the financial debauchery of the 1990s and 2000s, afraid of missing out, it turned out that they were no good at it. Speculation was not their forte.
The article that drew attention to the national differences said that the Germans had never been keen on Keynesianism – unlike the French. But this, it seems to me, is to misunderstand Keynes. Like everyone else, the Germans have run deficits in their time, but never with the idea that deficit-spending was a route to wealth, let alone the route to wealth. For the Germans, you could have deficits provided you also sometimes had equal and opposite surpluses.
This, surely, is closer to what, rightly or wrongly, Keynes thought. He thought deficits an expedient to deal with a temporary decline in demand consequent upon the business cycle. He was an old fashioned liberal: he did not see government deficits as the creator, the onlie begetter, to quote the dedication to Shakespeare’s Sonnets, of demand itself. Indeed, he saw two kinds of deficits, those of investment and those of consumption. The former would bring some kind of economic return; and it is true that France now disposes of a splendid infrastructure that conduces to economic efficiency, to say nothing of its addition to the amenities of life; but the latter, deficits for the sake of current consumption, are (regrettably, in Keynes’ view) sometimes necessary for social and humanitarian reasons, as well for economic ones. What Keynes did not envisage was deficits as a permanent way of life, just as the founders of the British Welfare State did not envisage welfare as a permanent way of life.
There is another source of difference in attitude between France and Germany, namely demographic. France has a growing population, Germany a declining one. The ageing of Germans means that more and more of them will be living on savings and fixed incomes. The stability of the currency is therefore in their interest; by contrast, more of the French have an interest in expropriating creditors (the old) to the advantage of debtors (the young). As Keynes himself put it in Social Consequences of Changes in the Value of Money with characteristic brio:
… a change in prices and rewards, as measured in money, generally affect different classes unequally, transfers wealth from one to another, bestows affluence here and embarrassments there, and redistributes Fortune’s favours so as to frustrate design and disappoint expectation.
To cobble together in a monetary union two large countries – two large blocs of countries – with such different attitudes and interests was in the highest degree irresponsible. One of the justifications regularly trotted out for the European Union is that it brings peace, as if, without it, Slovenia would attack Spain. In fact, by making neither living together nor divorce feasible, it is fostering, at least potentially, a conflict such as that of the former Yugoslavia. The old hatreds are stirring: at the end of a book titled Bismarck Herring: The German Poison just published, and available everywhere in France, the French left-wing – yes, left-wing – politician and former presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, says that France still has independent military power, with the clear implied message that Germany does not. Boches beware!
Scary prospects then, scary prospects now with the world on the verge of concluding a nuclear agreement with the apocalyptic Islamic Republic of Iran virtually assuring it of an arsenal of nuclear weapons in a decade, if not sooner funding in part by the lifting of $150 billion in sanctions. The US says it has the means of striking back at Iran if it is found cheating, a reference to possible military actions. The reality is that the Administration has hollowed out the nation’s military capabilities leaving Israel isolated. The Jewish nation would doubtlessly be reviled by world opinion, should it undertake a strike of its own on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Israeli Limited Nuclear Attack Scenario
There are daunting prospects facing Israel with the looming Congressional vote rejecting the Iran nuclear pact in the face of a likely veto threat by President Obama that may not be overridden. John Bosum, in his American Thinker article vets a possible limited nuclear attack by Israel against Iran's nuclear facilities. His credibility stems from his considerable expertise and professional background in nuclear war gaming and arms control. He posits an attack scenario using conventional air craft equipped with US supplied GBU 28 “bunker busters” followed by tactical nukes or nuclear tipped cruise missiles launched from Israeli Dolphin subs offshore in the Arabian Sea. That scenario faces the realities of estimated losses by Israel Ministry of Defense planners. They have estimated that such a scenario might result in the loss of 40 percent of air crews-a heavy price to pay for young IAF pilots. Then there is Bosum’s suggestion that Israel might use a low altitude EMP attack on Iran by a Jericho 2 missile. Ex-CIA official Chet Nagle suggested that Israel might pursue that during a Capitol Hill EMPact program on the EMP Threat several years ago. There is also the non nuclear option using swarms of Drone- launched CHAMP cruise missiles that could take out specific targets. Examples are computer controllers and major power transformers for underground enrichment and centrifuge R& D facilities as well as command and control networks. Israeli encrypted software managing large swarms of drones may provide a stealth shield against the Russian supplied S300 batteries. In September 2008 the IAF flew simulated missions against Greek S300 systems involving swarms of IAF aircraft that rattled the IRGC military. From that exercise the IAF may have developed electronic means of spoofing these Russian systems version of S-300 air defense systems.
Bosum believes that Israel’s anti-missile umbrella including the Arrow anti-ICBM, David Sling, Iron Beam and Iron Dome systems, might not be able to withstand barrages of Iranian rockets and medium range ballistic missiles. There is evidence from the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) November 2012 Iran attack simulations that a conventional attack might succeed in setting back the Iranian program by three years. Moreover, the simulations suggest that the anti-missile umbrella may destroy significant numbers of incoming Iranian missiles sparing Israel’s major population centers. From reliable sources we understand that Israel may have successfully conducted tests against North Korean developed Shahab 3 missiles likely candidates for nuclear equipped MIRV warheads.
The real issues for Israel are priorities and staging of a limited nuclear attack scenario on Iran’s nuclear program. From release of interview audio tapes this weekend on Israeli Channel 2 by the authors of a forthcoming memoir of former Defense Minister Ehud Barak there were allegations that Netanyahu was thwarted from undertaking possible Iran nuclear attack missions because of objections from former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, “cold feet” of Ministers Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Defense Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon and looming joint Israel US military exercises in 2012. There were reports that President Obama threatened to invoke the Brzezinski Doctrine with orders to shoot down IAF aircraft attacking Iranian targets. Problem is Barak’s representations may have been part of a promotional effort to enhance his reputation and legacy. There were also rumors that current Minister of Defense, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon may have also revisited the limited Iran nuclear attack option this past year. He broadly hinted that “steps” might have to be taken during a May 5, 2015 conference in Tel Aviv hosted by the Israel Law Center, sufficient to bring a reaction from Iran’s UN Ambassador. Ya’alon was cited in a Times of Israelreport saying:
“Certain steps” Israel might consider against tyrannical regimes threatening the nation’s security.
Cases in which we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations we might take certain steps that we believe…should be taken in order to defend ourselves.
Of course, we should be sure that we can look at the mirror after the decision, or the operation. Of course, we should be sure that it is a military necessity. We should consider cost and benefit, of course. But, at the end, we might take certain steps.
He was reminded of US president Harry Truman who “was asked how you feel after deciding to launch the nuclear bombs, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000, casualties? And he said, "When I heard from my officers the alternative is a long war with Japan, with potential fatalities of a couple of millions, I thought it is a moral decision.
We are not there yet, Ya’alon then added.
Iranian President Rouhani and Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan with Fateh-313 Sold Fuel Missile, August 22, 2015
Source: Iranian Presidential office/AP
The Hezbollah Attack Scenario
The release in mid-August 2015 of a definitive national strategy document by IDF Chief of State (COS) Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, criticized failures to combat both Hamas and Hezbollah, raised the risk from non-state fundamentalist Islamic State, but downplayed the Iran threat. It is not without moment in late August that there was a stream of contradictory declarations from PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya'alon that Iran is behind a series of low intensity and rocket attacks on Northern Israel and the Golan frontier since the beginning of this year. The attacks involved IRGC officers and Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israeli PM Netanyahu referencing acceptance of the Iran nuclear pact by world powers said, “You rush to embrace Iran, they fire rockets at us. We will harm those who harm us”
From the assessments of retired Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Adviser, the immediate objective is the elimination of the near enemy and proxy of Iran, Hezbollah. Recently Iran unveiled a new solid fuel surface to surface missile, the Fateh 313, that President Rouhani threatened ballistic missile exercises would demonstrate the ability of longer range missiles to strike both Israel and Saudi Arabia. The limited range of 310 miles of the Fateh-113 makes the weapon suitable for possible launch from Syria and Lebanon against population centers in Israel. Further, this threat is bolstered by the turmoil in Lebanon behind the unresolved political crisis over the possibility of a power grab by Hezbollah.
An Israeli pre-emptive attack scenario is at the heart of Jon Schanzer's article, “The Iran Nuclear Deal Means War between Israel and Hezbollah”. Schanzer argues that the Iran nuclear deal may trigger a major war against Hezbollah to eliminate the Iranian- supplied rocket and missile inventories and the command and control echelons of Hezbollah. Schanzer refers to discussions with senior Israeli defense officials who appear committed to dislodge Hezbollah and destroy the huge inventory of 150,000 rockets and missiles in Lebanon. Israel has both air and naval combat capabilities to achieve this including interdiction of Iranian and Chinese supplied anti-ship missiles. Further, the IDF would not have to rely on those US-supplied GBU-28’s bunker busters. It has sophisticated weapons like the Rafael SPICE precision guided glide bombs used to foil weapons deliveries from Syria to Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley. It also has its own variant of the Boeing CHAMP cruise missiles capable of non-nuclear EMP effects against command and control nets. Moreover, unlike the inconclusive Second Lebanon War of 2006, the IDF has learned its lessons about unit training, command and control and effective means of taking out anti-air, anti-tank rockets and launching precision battlefield missiles, using the Iron Beam, Trophy and Pereh systems.
This sequencing of threat priorities was reflected in a Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition Interview by Sohran Ahmari with former Saudi General and National Security Advisor Anwar Eshki, “The Saudis Reply to Iran’s Rising Danger.” General Eshki held colloquies with Dr. Dore Gold director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry. The most notable one was the public forum at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. General Eshki's conclusion drawn from a Socratic dialogue on the near versus far enemy decision paradigm was: "Israel is thinking first of all to destroy Hezbollah, to solve the problem with Hezbollah. After that they can attack Iran."
Walla News in Israel reported a senior defense official saying that Israel may be capable of undertaking an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and defending Israel against a retaliatory strike:
Every year that passes, the IDF improves. We never stand still. The professional level increases. In the coming year we will receive another submarine, F-35 fighter jets and other platforms. Intelligence is improving as well.
Further, Walla reported IDF COS Eizenkot instructing deputy, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan to revise military plans for a possible military strike. But it cautioned that the military option was off the table until there are ‘significant developments’. That may be for public consumption. Israel has a tradition of saying nothing or opaquely very little when such events occur
The planners in the Ministry of Defense pits in Tel Aviv have multiple threats and must prioritize resources. By necessity Israel must plan for taking out the near enemy, Hezbollah, which would enable them to have a clear path to attack Iran. Thus, it must be prepared to accomplish both threats. At issue is whether Israel I PM Netanyahu and the security cabinet have the resolve to accomplish both despite adverse world opinion and likely intervention by the Obama Administration.
When Israeli PM Begin ordered the “raid against the sun’ in 1981 that took out Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor , it took a decade for former Vice President Dick Cheney to thank Israel when the US led coalition unleashed the First Gulf War. No such thanks came from the Bush Administration following the IAF’s successful obliteration of the Syrian al-Kibar nuclear bomb factory following the September 2007 raid. . The Obama Administration has demonstrated its inability or unwillingness to exercise a possible military option should Iran be found cheating under the terms of the JCPOA. It has hollowed out the US military capability under the Congressional Sequester. We have the smallest navy since WWI and the smallest Army since before WWII. We have less than 26,000 first line aircraft. Israel has no choice, but to undertake its sovereign right to defend the Jewish nation against such existential threats.
King Salman Talks of Peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel
It was a gratifying surprise, and a sign of the changing political configurations in the Middle East that the retired Saudi major general, Anwar Eshki, director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, spoke on panels in Washington and New York in 2015 together with Dore Gold, the Israeli international relations expert soon to become director general of Israel’s foreign office, and advisor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The improbable duo agreed on two crucial issues: bringing peace between Arab countries and Israel; and building a Saudi-Israel peace which among other consequences could counter the expansion of Iran.
It would be fruitful and rewarding for the world, as well as the Middle East, if King Salman of Saudi Arabia could write a statement that would address the issue in the same manner. If one were presumptuous enough to write his statement it might go like this:
King Salmon’s letter to the International Community
In view of the challenges we are facing in the Middle East it is imperative to call on the Arab nations in particular and the international community in general to initiate changes to foster peace in the area. We must move forward to positive activity in our area. All are now far more concerned with the threat of Iran and now also with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria than with the State of Israel.
The people of Saudi Arabia in a recent public opinion poll made known their views of who is the main adversary of their country: 53 per cent thought it was Iran, 22 thought it was the Islamic State, and only 18 per cent thought it was Israel. The world has noticed that we did not express any considerable criticism of Israel during its Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. I can reveal that there was talk of Israel offering its Iron Dome missile defense technology to us for use in Yemen.
The time is long overdue for my country, and the other Arab countries, to establish peace, diplomatic relations, economic and financial arrangements with the State of Israel. Our two countries seek the same objective, peace in our area, and are both aware of the major danger in the Middle East. Israel does not threaten any country, in the Middle East or elsewhere, but is itself threatened, as is Saudi Arabia, by a shared adversary, Iran.
Our two countries know that Iran’s intentions are twofold: to extend hegemony over the whole Middle East, and revive the “Persian Empire”; and to achieve as soon as possible a nuclear arsenal.
Saudi Arabia and Israel both realize that Iran is a state with an active offensive policy, one that is likely to be strengthened as a result of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in Lausanne, an agreement, which at a minimum, will allow Iran to be in a position to develop nuclear weapons in the not too distant future.
Saudi Arabia and Israel are both concerned over Iran’s nuclear program and its regional ambitions.
We know that Iran will challenge us and boost its oil production as soon as sanctions are lifted. We are conscious of the impending danger. On August 23, 2015, Phillip Hammond the British Foreign Secretary remarked during his visit to Tehran that the United Nations Security Council sanctions will be removed in the spring of 2016.
It is true that Israeli and Saudi plans to deal with the common enemy are not completely aligned, especially regarding the possibility of an Israeli air strike against Iran. We also understand that Israel may first be concerned and anxious to deal with Iran’s proxies in the area, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, before committing itself to the larger problem of Iran.
We on the other hand call for a joint Arab military force to increase regional stability. We have already taken action to fight the Houthi rebels in Yemen who are backed by Iran. The rebels have ousted the president of Yemen and captured Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, and they are helping Iran to destabilize the region. We have helped stop the attempt of Iran to control the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
We favor the creation of a Greater Kurdistan, containing parts of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, to reward the brave Kurds for their fight against terrorism and their actions to limit Iran’s ambitions in the Turkish territory. This will help in the struggle to control the Islamic State which is not only expanding its control of territory but also developing chemical, and perhaps also biological, weapons as has been shown by its use of chlorine in home made bombs.
We also realize that the Iran Supreme Leader and those who agree with his intentions, though they are Shiites, may have ambitions to capture Mecca and Medina, our two Holy Places.
It is regrettable, in view of the changing nature of the Middle East, that we have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and have only had some private meetings with Israelis during the last few years. We proposed the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002. We understand that some of the original proposals, withdrawal of Israel from the Golan Heights and the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, are not acceptable to Israel.
But the situation in the Middle East has changed in the ensuing 13 years, and the need for reconciliation with and understandings with Arab countries, is of the upmost importance. We suggest some changes, a new seven-point plan, to the original proposal. We therefore favor, and trust that other Arab states will follow the same policy, the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel and the conclusion of a peace treaty with Palestinians. We are seriously considering the ending of the Arab League boycott of Israel.
We know that the Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is planning to visit Iran in the near future, and that the PA, which already has an embassy in Tehran, wants to strengthen its relationship with Iran. We hope this will not prevent the Palestinians from pursuing negotiations with Israel.
Could a Trash Crisis In Lebanon Bring Hezbollah to Power?
Trash bins in Beirut, Lebanon
Source: Daily Star
Trash has been piling up in the streets of Beirut for nearly two months. This weekend violence erupted in the Grand Serail in central Beirut with the Army rushing in with water cannons to quell the crowds; dozens were reported injured. An alleged non –sectarian activist group “You Stink” is directing its ire at the government, which lacks a President, usually a Maronite Christian in the confessional political system of Lebanon. The Sunni premier, Tammam Salam is under fire, as Cabinet Ministers rejected new tenders to end the trash dispute. Noteworthy is the alliance between Hezbollah’s and the Christian Maronite group Lebanon Forces are suggesting that a new government be elected, despite the postponement of a national election till 2017. Such is the topsy turvy politics in Lebanon’s enigmatic political system, given the overarching problems of contending with Hezbollah involvement in the Iranian regime backed alliance with Syria’s Assad. The Lebanese trash crisis gives new meaning to the well tuned phrase by 19th Century American journalist, Charles Dudley Warner: “politics make strange bedfellows.” Despite the alleged resilience and durability of the Lebanese confessional political system, could failure to obtain new tenders for the removal of stinking piles of trash on the streets of Lebanon’s cities result in Hezbollah emerging as the eminence grise behind a new government in Beirut?
The powerful Shi'ite party Hezbollah and its Christian allies walked out of an emergency Lebanese cabinet meeting on Tuesday in protest at a proposed solution to a garbage disposal crisis that has ignited violent protests in Beirut.
The national unity government led by Prime Minister Tammam Salam also canceled a tender to select new refuse collection firms, underscoring the difficulties it faces overcoming the crisis that has brought popular calls for it to step down.
Public anger that has come to a head over the trash crisis turned violent at the weekend, with scores of protesters and security forces injured. Salam has threatened to resign, expressing frustration at the failings of his cabinet, which groups Lebanon's rival parties.
Failure to agree a solution to the crisis has laid bare wider political stagnation in Lebanon, where sectarian and power rivalries have been exacerbated by Syria's four-year-old conflict.
Ministers including members of Hezbollah and Christian politician Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement walked out of Tuesday's emergency meeting, the information minister said.
Hezbollah in a statement slammed the "mounting and worsening corruption" it said the garbage crisis reflected.
A government statement released after the walkout said tenders announced on Monday to award contracts for waste disposal to private companies had "included high costs", and had therefore been rejected.
Media reports and activists had accused the cabinet of awarding the contracts to a number of companies based on regional and political affiliation, reflecting alleged corruption and politicization of the issue.
The government said that as a temporary measure rubbish, which has festered on the streets of Beirut, would be tipped in Akkar province in north Lebanon, in return for a $100 million "sum" that would go toward development projects in that region.
The information minister said it was the proposed sum that triggered the walkout. Akkar, one of the poorest regions in Lebanon, is mostly Sunni but also has many Christian areas.
“You Stink” Cartoon
Source: The Daily Star, Beirut
Worsening problems emerge in the trash crisis.
Beirut-based activists from the "You Stink" campaign held two large rallies over the weekend and a smaller march on Monday, with calls for a solution to the rubbish crisis quickly turning into calls for the cabinet to resign.
Protest organizers have called on Lebanese at home and abroad to join them in a large rally on Saturday.
Lebanon's army commander General Jean Kahwaji said late on Monday the armed forces would protect any peaceful demonstrations but would not tolerate "security violators or infiltrators" who sought to sow "sedition and chaos."
Organizers of protests, which began peacefully, have blamed the violence on troublemakers whom they say are connected to rival sectarian parties. The U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon on Monday urged "maximum restraint" by all sides.
Calm has prevailed since the weekend clashes, however, and later Tuesday, workers were removing concrete blast walls erected the day before outside the cabinet headquarters which protesters had covered with colorful anti-government graffiti.
The protest campaign, which has mobilized independently of the big sectarian parties that dominate Lebanese politics, blames political feuding and corruption for the failure to resolve the crisis that has left piles of uncollected garbage stinking in the scorching sun in recent weeks.
The cabinet and parliament are deadlocked, and politicians have been unable to agree on a new president for more than a year while Syria's war next door has aggravated sectarian tensions and driven more than one million refugees into the country.
The Salam cabinet, formed last year with the blessing of regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, has avoided a complete vacuum in the executive arm. It brings together Sunni Muslim former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's Future movement, Shi'ite Hezbollah and Christians.
But it has struggled to take even basic decisions and tension in cabinet has escalated over appointments in the security agencies and army.
Dr. Mordechai Nisan
This latest crisis comes as we are about to publish in the September edition of the NER a book review and interview with Dr. Mordechai Nisan, a well published author lecturer and respected Israeli expert on Lebanon and minorities in the Middle East. In our interview with Nisan we asked a question about the survivability of the 80 year confessional political system in Lebanon. Here is the exchange:
Gordon: Did the assassination of Lebanese PM Hariri and the Cedars Revolution of 2005 spell the demise of the confessional system in Lebanon?
Nisan: The durability of Lebanon's confessional political system remains in place. It is both traditional and consensual that the President be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of the Legislature a Shiite Muslim. These arrangements have persevered for some 80 years as an organic model for the special case of Lebanon.
With a vacant presidential post and parliamentary elections postponed until 2017, trouble looms for the country caught up in the vicissitudes of the Syrian civil war spilling over its borders bringing a flood of refugees and a roiling trash crisis.Nisan wrote about a hopeful sign, “The March 14 camp asked Patriarch Beshara a – Ra’I to suggest names for the presidential post. Maybe somehow two Maronites –patriarch and president would help save the country from oblivion.” The expression in Hebrew is, Alevai. Its English meaning, “That should only be.”
President Obama and Donald Trump see immigration differently. The President’s aggressive executive action on immigration is still being litigated, and Mr. Trump proposes action of a different kind. In the meantime, tax credits and refunds for illegal immigrants have become controversial. Mr. Trump says illegal immigrants get $4.2 billion in tax credits. He can point to a 2011 audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. It confirms that individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States were paid $4.2 billion in refundable credits.
It sounds crazy, and yet one source says Trump is the one being unfair, taking this out of context, and not counting their taxes paid. Bear in mind that undocumented immigrants cannot legitimately get Social Security numbers. However, they can file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN. They are not supposed to get the Earned Income Tax Credit, but they can receive the additional child tax credit.
That, rather than Mr. Trump, is the culprit. Mr. Trump might also point out the arguably bigger flap over the illegal immigrants whose status would be legitimized under the President’s executive action. That boondoggle is arguably even bigger, involving the Earned Income Tax Credit. Yet, it is the same refundable tax credit responsible for billions in fraudulent refunds.
The recipe goes like this. First, get a Social Security Number, then claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for the last three years. Then, wait for the IRS to send you three years of tax refunds. The gambit could apparently work even if you never paid taxes, never filed a return, and worked off the books. And the IRS says this is the way the Earned Income Tax Credit works.
Cautious IRS Commissioner Koskinen himself explained the seemingly bizarre result to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Illegal immigrants covered by the President’s amnesty deal can claim back tax credits for work they performed illegally, even if they never filed a tax return during those years. This written response clarified the IRS chief’s earlier statements, confirming that illegals can get back taxes. ...
On August 21, 2015 the Israeli born actress Natalie Portman, who won an Oscar in 2011 for her role as an obsessed ballerina in the film Black Swan, made a controversial debut on the political stage. She commented that the Holocaust has been the focus of too much attention from some in the Jewish community, and that it should not be used as a paranoid way of thinking that we (Jews) are victims.
Ms. Portman is recognized as an impressive actress but her political views and the timing of her political statement would not receive an Oscar. Portman may not be obsessed by the question of the Holocaust, but other contrary views appeared virtually simultaneously. The Holocaust issue was ignited about the same time of her statement by non-Jews in two ways: one by the notorious British Holocaust denier David Irving; the other by the publication of extraordinary heartrending photographs of the humiliation and murder of Jews in Ukraine during World War II.
With brazen immodesty David Irving sells himself as the world’s most respected historian, and the world’s top expert on World War II. Most of the world thinks otherwise. He lost a court case when in 1996 he sued Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for defamation concerning his denial of the existence of Nazi gas chambers, and in another case was sentenced to three years imprisonment by an Austrian court in 2006 for denying the Holocaust.
In London in late July 2015, Irving addressed a secret meeting of 120 fascist sympathizers and neo-Nazis, some of whom wore black T-shirts with the logo of European fascist groups, and others were dressed in camouflage with chains. Other speakers at this gathering of the most well known international holocaust deniers included an individual who describes himself as the “best friend” of Rudolf Hess, and the American Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review and publisher of a journal that promotes holocaust denial.
More startling than the disgraceful ignorance and bigotry of these Holocaust deniers is the publication in August 2015 in the London Daily Mail of evidence of the still not fully revealed enormity of the Holocaust in Ukraine. This evidence is mainly due to the work of a French Catholic priest Father Patrick Desbois, consultant to the Vatican and co-founder in 2004 of Yahad-in-Unum, whose objectives are to confront antisemitism and to further relations between Catholics and Jews.
Desbois a forensic anthropologist, published Holocaustby Bullets, on the Nazi mobile units that killed the Jewish population of small villages. Over the last decade he has been concerned with identifying and locating mass graves of Jews killed during the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. In careful research in Russia, Germany, and Washington D.C., and by inspections of villages across the Ukraine and Eastern Europe and interviews with residents, Father Desbois and his team of Yahad-in-Unum have uncovered 2,000 mass killing sites in the continent of extermination.
Unlike Natalie Portman and like-minded persons, Desbois wants to make the world more, not less, aware of the assassinations of Jews. He asserts that some of the facts of the genocide have not been declared. He estimates that more than 1.5 million, more than the usually quoted figure, of victims were buried in the graves he found in Ukraine. He is anxious to locate all the sites, there may be more than 6,000 other sites to be uncovered, before all the witnesses, who only recently were ending their vow of silence about the atrocities, have died. Thus history will not die with the witnesses. Desbois is aware that otherwise the Holocaust deniers will overreact, as they have always done, and proclaim that Jews have falsified the story.
The sickening photographs and script made public in August 2015 reveal in horrifying detail the humiliation, public beatings in the street, whippings, and individual murder of perhaps as many as 1.6 million Jews who were summarily shot and buried in graves nearby. Often, Jews were forced to dig pits and to strip naked before being killed, or were buried alive. Jews were killed for fun, or because of boredom, anger, drunkenness, or to rape the girls. The perpetrators ransacked the clothes of the victims for cash and valuables.
Another interesting point emerges from this history. In the town of Rava Ruska the Germans killed 25,000 Soviet prisoners. There is now a memorial for those prisoners. But an even larger number of Jews were murdered there or in the area, and there are no memorials for the mass graves of the Jews.
The Nazis of course were responsible for the Holocaust, but the Ukrainian local Auxiliary Police forces, trained by the Nazis, played an active role. In Lyov, where more than 4,000 Jews were killed, a Ukrainian mob took part in the stripping and humiliation of Jewish women in the streets. It is horrifying to see the smiling faces of Ukrainian bystanders who watched Jewish men and women being humiliated. It is a reminder that about a quarter of all Jews killed in the genocide were Ukrainian Jews.
One remembers that Ukrainians suffered in the years of 1932-33 with the Holodomor, the intentional famine policy of Stalin, which they address as a genocide equal to that of the Nazi genocide. Nevertheless, it is disconcerting that Ukrainians spokespeople excuse their past and stress this while ignoring the antisemtism and the role Ukrainians played in the mass murder in their country.
Ukraine has yet come to terms with the past, as Germany and Poland have tried to do. Jews are still being assaulted in Kiev, Jewish synagogues, monuments and cemeteries are still being desecrated. Antisemitic pamphlets are being distributed. Ukrainian nationalists still express antisemitic sentiments. Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the political party Svoboda, called on the president of the country to end the “criminal activities of organized Jewry,” as well as asserting that Ukraine was controlled by a “Moscow-Jewish Mafia.”
Above all, there have been little or no official or unofficial apologies for the brutal actions of Ukrainians during the war, apologies that have come from other countries, especially France and Germany. At this moment when Ukraine seeks sympathy and American aid in its struggle with Russia, and when the U.S. considers its policy towards the area, it might do well to apologize for its misdeeds in the past and attempt to close the dark pages of its history.
French President Hollande’s Message to Turkey: Strike ISIS not Kurds
French President Hollande and Turkish President Erdogan
The revelations about the Moroccan Jihadi, who brave Americans, Brit and French took down on the Thayles fast train last Friday, clearly indicated Ayoub El-Kanazzi’s travels to Turkey, were to confer with alleged French ISIS fighters. Following the glowing tributes and medals bestowed at the Elysee Palace to Americans, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler and Brit Chris Norman, French President turned his political attention to Turkey’s President Erdogan. He issued a statement today suggesting that Erdogan concentrate hitting ISIS targets instead of Kurdish PKK forces in both Syria and Iraq. Reuters reported these developments in an article, “France’s Hollande: Turkey Needs to Ramp up Islamic State Fight:”
French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday Turkey must do more to tackle Islamic State in Syria and urged it to restore dialogue with Kurdish groups after launching strikes against them more than a month ago.
Hollande delivered his annual foreign policy speech to French ambassadors a day after the Turkish foreign minister told Reuters that Turkey and the United States would launch air operations to push Islamic State from a border area in northern Syria, something that could help prevent the militants bringing in fighters and arms in.
"All the players need to be part of the solution. I'm thinking of Gulf Arab states and Iran. I'm thinking of Turkey that needs to be involved in the fight against Islamic State and needs to relaunch dialogue with the Kurds." Hollande said.
Turkey's critics say it has used its role in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State as a cover to attack Kurdish PKK fighters and stem Kurdish political and territorial ambitions. Ankara says it is conducting a "synchronized war on terror"
Hollande also said the deal reached with Iran over its nuclear program opened a window of opportunity to include it in resolving regional crises such as Syria, where it is Assad's primary backer.
"We must ask Iran to associate itself with the resolution of crises that are devastating the region," Hollande said. "Iran must be a constructive player."
Hollande is putting on brave face following the close call last Friday with a heavily armed Moroccan Jihadist on the Thalys train taken down by US, Brit and French heroes. He's requesting that Turkey's Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan go after ISIS instead of the PKK and Kurdish resistance forces in both Iraq and Syria. Add to that hoping that Iran, an accomplice in the Axis of Evil including Russia, Syria and North Korea, would aid in removal of Bashar Assad is truly whistling past the graveyard. But then Hollande acquiesced to approval of the Iran nuclear pact given glowing economic opportunities for French companies like Total and Peugeot.
Erdogan is caught in a trap of his own making. He snookered his admirer Obama by relenting on the use of the Incirlik air base, while sending his F-16s to attack PKK bastions on the Quandil Mountain in northern Iraq, leaving the USAF to attack ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. Then he rounded up the usual PKK suspects in southeastern Turkey and found both he and his security forces in an internal revolt by Kurds in Southeastern Turkey.
Because the minority Kurdish party in the Ankara parliament, the HDP, won eighty seats, by attacking the Kurds inside Turkey, that will ensure another political fiasco now that he's called for a new snap election in October. So-called Conservative Kurds who fell for his sinuous Islamist appeal are bailing, which translates to the HDP increasing its stake of possible seats in this coming election. Add to that the swooning Turkish economy. So, the neo Ottoman Sultan in Ankara may find himself in a stalemate quagmire of his own making and the elusive executive authoritarian Presidency beyond his reach.
Having said all that Hollande unlike Obama is correct that Turkey has to shut down the cross border flood of ISIS wannabees into Syria. But then Erdogan wouldn't make illicit profits from the sale of antiquities and smuggled oil from the Islamic State. Moreover, his ally, the IHH Muslim charity, involved with the Mavi Marmara incident off Gaza in 2010, wouldn't be able to ship cash and weapons for the Sunni supremacists in Raqaa, Syria. Further, his seeking that 60 mile buffer zone in northwest Syria abutting the Turkish frontier may not become a reality. The US and others suggest that a no-fly zone based on the model from the 1990's in Saddam Hussein's Iraq may be the best solution. Besides the buffer zone was supposed to solve two problems: a means of sending back Syrian refugees and blunt a Kurdish push to seal the frontier perhaps all the way to the Mediterranean. So, thank you President Hollande for the honors you bestowed on our heroic boys and for the clarity of your message to Islamist recalcitrant, Turkish President Erdogan, an alleged NATO ally. On Iran, M. Hollande, you bought into the nuclear pact because of glittering economic prizes to French companies. You may have inadvertently have let loose the dogs of war against Israel via proxy Hezbollah.
We all want to be treated in the best hospitals by the best doctors, but this is not possible so long as any difference in quality between them exists. The best hospitals and the best doctors cannot treat everybody. Moreover, it is much harder to tell which hospital and which doctor is the best than many of us suppose. League tables for doctors and hospitals are not like such tables for baseball or football teams, matters of straightforward record. They require measurements of enormous complexity, and the results are only trustworthy and valuable if the data that go into compiling them are both accurate and relevant.
A paper in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal casts doubt on the value of global judgments on hospitals as expressed in league tables.
The authors reasoned that if such judgments were of any value, a hospital’s standardised mortality ratio (the proportion of people of any particular category who died compared with the number of that category expected on average to die) ought to correlate strongly with the number of avoidable deaths that occur in that hospital. A hospital with a high standardised mortality ratio – the usual way of measuring its overall quality – ought to have a high rate of avoidable deaths, if that ratio is a true measure of the quality of medical care in that hospital compared with other hospitals.
The authors then examined the statistics for 34 hospitals in England, 10 of them in 2009 and 24 others in 2012-13. They correlated their SMRs with the proportion of deaths that were avoidable, calculated by the proportion of 100 deaths that occurred in each of the hospitals, chosen at random and examined by experts to determine whether they occurred because of any act of commission or omission by the hospital. Of course, whether a death is avoidable is usually a matter of judgment; it is rarely that incompetence or negligence is so great that death is indubitably its consequence. For the purposes of this study, a death was deemed to have been avoidable if the experts assessing the case thought there was more than a fifty percent chance that it was.
The correlation between hospitals’ SMRs and their rate of avoidable deaths was so slight as to be negligible: indeed it was not statistically significant. Overall the rate of avoidable death was low: 5.2 percent in 2009 and 3.6 percent in 2012-13, 115 cases in 3400 examined. This difference was statistically significant, but one cannot rush to the conclusion that hospitals had improved in the intervening period, for various factors had changed also that could have affected the rate (for example, the wider use and compliance with requests not to resuscitate).
There were limitations to the study: for example, agreement between experts as to what was an avoidable death was far from unanimous. Moreover, the experts were not blinded to the hospitals from which the cases they examined came. They might therefore have been influenced by biases, for or against, conscious or unconscious, in their judgment as to which death was avoidable. Further, a hospital’s global Standardised Mortality Ratio might have disguised exceptionally good and exceptionally bad departments within it that balanced each other overall.
Nevertheless, the lesson seems clear: the global SMR as a measure of a hospital’s quality is invalid. This is not to say that there are no good and bad hospitals, only that the SMR is not the way to assess them, perhaps because the SMR itself is far from a watertight measure and is subject to a large number of confounding factors. We should be as accurate as possible, but not believe ourselves to be more accurate than were actually are.
According to Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) legal policy analyst Jon Feere, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in April, between 350,000 and 400,000 children are born annually to an illegal-alien mother residing in the United States — as many as one in ten births nationwide. As of 2010, four out of five children of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. were born here — some 4 million kids. Reporting that finding, the Pew Research Center noted that, while illegal immigrants make up about 4 percent of the adult population, “because they have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8 percent) and the child population (7 percent) in this country.”
The cost of this is not negligible. Inflation-adjusted figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that a child born in 2013 would cost his parents $304,480 from birth to his eighteenth birthday. Given that illegal-alien households are normally low-income households (three out of five illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children live at or near the poverty line), one would expect that a significant portion of that cost will fall on the government. And that’s exactly what‘s happening. According to CIS, 71 percent of illegal-alien headed households with children received some sort of welfare in 2009, compared with 39 percent of native-headed houses with children. Illegal immigrants generally access welfare programs through their U.S.-born children, to whom government assistance is guaranteed. Additionally, U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are entitled to American public schools, health care, and more, even though illegal-alien households rarely pay taxes.
The short-term cost of “anchor babies” was revealed a decade ago in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. “‘Anchor babies’ born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income,” wrote medical attorney Madeleine Pelner Cosman. She noted the increasingly costly situation in California:
In 2003 in Stockton, California, 70 percent of the 2,300 babies born in San Joaquin General Hospital’s maternity ward were anchor babies, and 45 percent of Stockton children under age six are Latino (up from 30 percent in 1993). In 1994, 74,987 anchor babies in California hospital maternity units cost $215 million and constituted 36 percent of all Medi-Cal [California’s Medicaid program] births. Now  they account for substantially more than half.
While perhaps humane, measures such as the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires hospital emergency departments to treat all patients with an “emergency” (an infinitely malleable term), regardless of documentation or ability to pay, have facilitated the abuse of American health care by illegal aliens, according to Cosman.
There are long-term costs, too. U.S.-born children of illegal aliens can sponsor the immigration of family members once they come of age. At 18, an “anchor baby” can sponsor an overseas spouse and unmarried children of his own; at 21, he can sponsor parents and siblings. There may be a long waiting period before that legal benefit is of use. But it’s a fact that illegal aliens with American-born children are much less likely to be deported, and that policy has been effectively enshrined in law with President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) policy, which would effectively grant amnesty to some 5 million illegal aliens, on top of the 2 to 3 million granted amnesty under his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. (DAPA is currently under scrutiny in the courts.)
Let us say you are on vacation in the Greek isle of Kos. You’ve been coming to Kos on your vacation with your family for over twenty years. You and your family look forward to the two week vacation and it has never failed you. The beaches, the Mediterranean, the pace, the little restaurants - a truly wonderful respite from the hectic pace of your career with an accounting firm in Paris. As you walk along the beach on your usual evening stroll after dinner, with the sun setting and casting shadows, you see what seems to be a human form slightly rocking back and forth huddled at the water’s edge. You hesitate but then move on. As you approach you realize it is a woman holding a child. You hesitate again. But then sense that something is terribly wrong. You look about but there no one near by. You approach the woman and child sensing that she needs help.
The woman is a refuge from Syria who has been dumped on the beach by her transporters.
The issue? That was then. In the beginning such cases were treated with compassion and Greek social services did what they could to help. Here is an account of the present situation.
Kos refugees: 1,000 locked overnight in stadium with no food and 'sprayed with fire extinguishers' [link]
What if the original smattering group of refugees were patched up but sent back to Syria. Heartless cruel, unfeeling? True. But let us look at the misery index long range. If the original group were sent back then Kos would not gain the reputation of being a place where refugees could flee to safety and the start of a new life. As it is the reverse happened. The result has been a flood of refugees. Over a thousand have died in transit - mostly women and children. They are now held in holding pens until disposition arrangements can be worked out under a general plan by the EU. They are living in worse conditions than in the lands they fled. Their futures are even less certain and they may just be shipped back under some sort of illusory arrangement with their country of origin. The original reactive compassion has multiplied misery a hundred fold.
The lesson here is that compassion is not, eo ipso, a problem solver. The compassionate response may, in the long run, do more harm than good and the smug sense of moral superiority evinced by those who think that immediate compassion is a basis for framing general social policy is a smugness born of idiocy.
Despite its mild criticism, worth remembering. David Greenberg writes in The New Republic:
In the 1980s, in the faculty-filled suburbs west of Boston, the historian Howard Zinn was something of a folk hero. The Boston Globe, where Zinn published a column, ran stories of his battles with the dictatorial John Silber, the president of Boston University, who cracked down on unions, censored student protests, and denied pay raises to enemies such as Zinn. When it was learned that the National Labor Relations Board had reinstated service workers who had been fired for striking, or that the courts upheld a student’s right to hang a “divest” banner from his window, a wave of satisfaction would surge from Cambridge to Brookline to Newton to Wellesley. As Silber’s chief nemesis, Zinn—handsome in profile, gentle in manner—made for a winning poster boy for anyone who reviled Silber’s high-handed rule.
As a faculty brat in those years, I was doubly enamored of Zinn after a classmate gave me A People’s History of the United States, his now-famous victims’-eye panorama of the American experience. In my adolescent rebelliousness, I thrilled to Zinn’s deflation of what he presented as the myths of standard-issue history. Do you know that the Declaration of Independence charged King George with fomenting slave rebellions and attacks from “merciless Indian Savages”? That James Polk started a war with Mexico as a pretext for annexing California? That Eugene Debs was jailed for calling World War I a war of conquest and plunder? Perhaps you do, if you are moderately well-read in American history. And if you are very well-read, you also know that these statements themselves are problematic simplifications. But like most sixteen-year-olds, I didn’t know any of this. Mischievously—subversively—A People’s History whispered that everything I had learned in school was a sugar-coated fairy tale, if not a deliberate lie. Now I knew.
What I didn’t realize was that the orthodox version of the American past that Howard Zinn spent his life debunking was by the 1980s no longer quite as hegemonic as Zinn made out. Even my high school history teacher marked Columbus Day by explaining that the celebrated “discoverer” of America had plundered Hispaniola for its gold and that, in acts of barbarism that would later be classified as genocide, Columbus’s men had butchered the native Arawaks, slicing off limbs for sport and turning their scrotums into change-purses. (This last detail stuck vividly in the teenage mind.) That Mr. MacDougall was conversant with radical scholarship such as Zinn’s suggests that much had changed from the days when Zinn himself had imbibed uncritical schoolbook accounts of the American story. True, in the popular books and public ceremonies of the 1980s, you could still find a whitewashed tale of the nation’s past, as you can today; and many cities around the country shielded their charges from such heresies. But as far as historians were concerned, the sacred cows that Howard Zinn was purporting to gore had already been slaughtered many times. As Jon Wiener noted in the Journal of American History, “during the early seventies … of all the changes in the profession, the institutionalization of radical history was the most remarkable.”
It is no secret that the radical historians of the 1960s—and more basically, the infusion of that decade’s fiercely questioning spirit into intellectual life—transformed historical inquiry. Almost half a century has now passed since a new tide of work upended interpretations of subjects from the Civil War to the Cold War and legitimized whole fields of research, notably Afro-American history and women’s history. In short order, these new fields and frameworks became central to the discipline. This mainstreaming of radical history owes more to the flow of deep currents of academic thought than it does to the person of Howard Zinn. But Zinn deserves a share of responsibility. As Martin Duberman notes in his interesting but flawed biography of Zinn, A People’s History of the United States has long been a publishing sensation, having sold more than two million copies in thirty-plus years, and its transgressive vapors still beguile young minds. To be sure, when they get to college, many of these students continue to read books, including works of history. And some of them come to realize that Zinn’s famous book is—for reasons that Duberman admirably makes clear—a pretty lousy piece of work.
In a recent speech at American University, President Obama attempted to sell his Iran nuclear agreement to a skeptical American public, which according to all reliable polls opposes the deal overwhelmingly. By making his pitch in a speech instead of a press conference, he avoided having to answer questions, clarify past inconsistent statements, and discuss the distortions that have been used to justify the deal. Rather than allay concerns that are causing worry even among Congressional Democrats, he instead heaped scorn on Republicans, attacked his critics, derided Binyamin Netanyahu, and minimized the threat to Israel. His speech was as self-congratulatory as it was detached from geopolitical reality.
And for once, liberal Jewish organizations disagreed with him publicly.
Mr. Obama attempted to woo Jewish groups into supporting the deal before his speech, but instead met with stiff resistance. Although known more for lobbying than open confrontation, AIPAC strongly opposed the deal and urged Congress to reject it. The Anti-Defamation League likewise objected, announcing in a public statement that: “We are deeply disappointed by the terms of the final deal with Iran … which seem to fall far short of the President’s objective of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state.” Underlying these statements is the realization that the deal will facilitate Iran’s nuclear program and encourage a regional arms race.