Some Links From The Left-Liberal Side

You don’t need necessarily need a driver’s license in France, but your driving-school does need a state-mandated DVD player:

‘Francis Kramarz, an economist who has studied the French licensing system, says that barriers to getting a license are so high that about one million French people, who should have licenses, have never been able to get them. Although it is technically possible to reduce the cost by having parents teach students in a dual-control car, few expect to succeed this way, and so it is rarely done.
Mr. Kramarz said that it often costs 3,000 euros, or about $3,900, to get a license. But others said the average was closer to 1,500 to 2,000 euros.’

Let’s be like Europe!

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Surely, all the moral equivalence and moral rationalism that finds expression in comparing Israeli deaths and Palestinian deaths equally and ignoring much else is….purely rational.  Such calculations float free above the frenzied passions and direct needs of many coalitions of Left, Left-liberal and even anti-semitic sentiment looking for oppressed victim classes in the Palestinians and Hamas through a certain ideological lens.  Social justice is nigh.

Freddie deBoer, Lefty with some socialist leanings, explains his reasoning here.

Maverick Philosopher takes a look at some of Juan Cole’s statements:

‘What Cole has given us is a text-book example of ignoratio elenchi.  This is an informal fallacy of reasoning committed by a person who launches into the refutation of some thesis that is  other than the one being forwarded by the dialectical opponent. ‘

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So that Libyan intervention didn’t work out too well. Competing militias fight for control as does a very weak government.  The French had to go in to Mali to contain some of the spillover from Gadhafi’s overthrow, and now the UAE and Egypt are trying to have some influence.

From Via Media: ‘Egypt, UAE Join Libyan Afterparty:’

‘Since the beginning of the current crises in the Middle East, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have been attacking terror groups, standing beside Israel against Hamas, and confronting Iran. Unlovely though these allies may sometimes be, they are embracing a war on extremism that the U.S. has been pushing hard for a decade. Yet the Obama Administration has been giving them the cold shoulder, betting instead on ideas that look increasingly tenuous: a grand bargain with Iran, pressuring Israel to achieve peace with Hamas, and looking to mediations and the UN to repair Libya, even as it collapses into civil war.’

Don’t worry, this will all work-out.

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘The Ironies Of A Palestinian State’

Full piece here.

Worth a read:

‘This traditional mélange of authority relationships masquerading as a modern state, as it were, were bound to confound Westerners, Americans in particular. Most Americans think their forms of government and the civic habits that go with them are universal in character. As far as the average person is concerned, they somehow just fell out of the sky one day in the 17th or 18th century, and we are so lucky to have been chosen to receive the tablets first. (We broke them in civil war and so had to have a second set carved out.) That average person also believes that people are essentially the same in all places and ages and that they’ll come around to our liberal democratic “best practice”—for we and the world all together of course are progressing, that being the faith of the thinly veiled “secular” eschatology of the Enlightenment.’

Garfinkle points out that should the Palestinians get their own state at some point, the record of stable Muslim states isn’t looking so hot. It may be better than the current status quo, but in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring,’ its best to take a more sober view of what’s possible.

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Despite the Palestinian condition, I’m guessing the aspirations of unity under Islam as opposed to national identity for all the family/group/tribal loyalties throughout the Muslim World creates deep chasms.  Desert nomads can live in pre-modern material conditions, for example, but also for large majorities throughout the Muslim world, our Western concepts of individual liberty and functioning democratic and constitutional Republican States are often worlds away.

History is long while ethnic, linguistic and religious differences abound. Islam as a unifying force, despite its many strengths, hasn’t undergone anything like an Enlightenment as many understand it in the West, which has produced the Westphalian, Weberian, and State models which those in the West have exported and at times, imposed. Islam’s transcendental claims are absolute, and submission of the will in faith a requirement, which only adds to the confusion.

In such a light, the grievances and resentments of Muslims living under genuine Western colonial and imperial activity, but usually under their own military autocrats, competing factions and dynasties along with their own contradictions, ancient divisions and hatreds, and in some cases, pathologies, can be understood a little better.

From such depths, modernity itself could be seen as an imposition. The appeal to drive the infidel from the Arabian peninsula, to be in control of something, and the desire to return the Muslim world to an to Islamic, pre-modern utopia for which its universals are the true universals finds a lot of sentiment. The problem is, this program is also pursued by trained and murderous ideologues, the radical Islamists with whom we are essentially at war.

These are battle-hardened fighters, many of whom have guerilla skills and not much else.

Sometimes, you’re dealing with such ideologues, thugs and ahistorical holy warriors that it’s not hard to spot them.  Recruiting kids is usually a tell.

From a reader:

It’s interesting to get reports from the ground.  Vice embedded with some ISIS now just IS (Islamic State) people in Iraq.  The connection with Syria is pretty obvious:

How are they similar to other groups with Western-style, fascistic elements like Shining Path in Peru (Maoist revolutionaries), and how are they similar to the Islamic revolutionaries in 1979 Iran?

How are they different?

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Tell me what I’m getting wrong.  Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’Via Youtube: ‘Roger Scruton On Islam And The West’

Inside Everyone Is A Western Individual Waiting To Get Out?-Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin?Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Statism abroad, statism at home: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Some Foreign Policy Links-Israel, Gaza, ISIS & ‘Peace’

Walter Russell Mead links to two good pieces: ‘White House Blindsided By Israeli/Egyptian Relationship

Mead:

‘It is clear from the above account that the White House has been consistently behind the eight ball on shifting patterns in the Middle East, and that U.S. diplomacy was seriously hampered by its failure to grasp the consequences of the burgeoning Egyptian-Israeli relationship’

It seems no one in the region, perhaps not even Hamas, wanted the Israel/Gaza peace-deal as brokered by John Kerry. The Israeli and Egyptian leadership have responded without our lead and in their own rational interests, a move which seems to have taken the current administration by surprise, as it has been busy simultaneously withdrawing U.S. influence from the region while still trying to pursue its aims.

Say you’re a committed isolationist, and you’re tired of the being the ‘world’s policeman,’ or at least believe U.S. interests may well be unsustainably overextended.

But now also think about what’s important to you (I’ll try to find one that’s near and dear): Your safety and security here at home, a sustainable economy and energy prices, free trade and human flourishing, less dictatorship and human suffering under autocrats and some recourse for human rights, human freedom, and international law and order of one kind or another.

When we withdraw, other interests fill the void. We may not like what we get.

On that note, not only is ISIS an ideological coalition of savage, ahistorical true-believing Islamists, blowing up ancient tombs (just like the Taliban did with slave labor those Buddha statues in Bamiyan), ISIS is also on a campaign, as I write this, to exterminate Iraqi Christians:

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They’ve also driven a group of Yazidis from their homes into the surrounding mountains to starve and die or return and be butchered:

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Perhaps the administration feels burned by the time it pursued humanitarian intervention in Libya, which has turned into a disaster, and thus has since withdrawn into a peace cocoon.  Perhaps it’s still trying to bridge the Iran gap, and keep that deal alive.  Of course, this relies on us doing business with the Ayatollah at the end of the day, a man whose power derives from the Islamic revolution in Iran.

On that note, Dan Drezner notes in the WaPo that in order to get to this point in our diplomacy, the administration has been concentrating foreign-policy decision-making in the White House. I suspect this is how you arrive at youthful, earnest hashtag activism (the kinds of people most willing to work with Obama on campaigns and follow his lead).

Drezner:

‘But I’ve written before that the foreign policy process matters significantly, and while it’s good for the White House to be interested in foreign policy, this does seem like an over-concentration of authority.’

Here we are.

Adam Garfinkle At Tablet: ‘The Crumbling Relationship Between The U.S., Israel, And Jews’

Full piece here.

A prediction based upon evidence?:

‘American Jewry is in for a real shock: The “special relationship” between the United States and Israel is fast eroding. The strategic, cultural, and demographic alignments that gave rise to and sustained for more than half a century the special relationship between the United States and Israel are all changing’

I suppose we’ll see, as it may not simply be a matter of the last five years of a Left-Of-Center American foreign policy and greater solidarity for secular humanism and abstract equality in the culture.  How best to think about this strategic alliance, which also has a component of the American, pro-military, religious and conservative right coming into play?

‘In truth, however, the relationship consists of a metaphorical triangle linking American Jewry with the governments of Israel and the United States. In the natural course of political events, all three actors intermediate between the other two, for good and ill. For example, even as American Jews lobby for Israel in American politics, Israeli governments sometimes get between American Jews and their own government’

Interesting read.

Pejman Yousefzadeh trolls what he expects might be the Andrew Sullivan/Walt & Mearsheimer response to any failure in talks with Iran:  The Israel Lobby.

-Many Europeans, and many European leaders traffic in an easy anti-Americanism, but also with rising percentages of Muslims in their societies and combined with their own histories, an easy and virulent anti-Israel & anti-Semitism.  When even Bernard Henri-Levy has been warning of this dangerous trend, it might be worth paying attention.

Related On This Site:  John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington….is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘History Repeats: In Europe, They Want Jewish Blood’From Foreign Policy: ‘Mearsheimer Responds To Goldberg’s Latest Smear’

For anyone,it takes moral courage to stand up to the messianism, Islamic moral absolutism, and dark theocratic tendencies of the Middle East…liberty is key as well as moral responsibility to think in terms of the legitimacy of rule here at home.  It is often the Left, the materialists (anti-religious) who stand up: …From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

What kind of threats to free speech do the justice and rights crowd pose?:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Materialism and Leftism Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran… Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’

Western societies are becoming less violent overall? We’ll see about that-Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Reader-emailed evidence for the American black-jewish leftist alliance on Bloggingheads with Joshua Cohen  engaging in genuine moral concern and genuie academic apologetics.  Obama has chosen Rahm Emmanuel to likely be the White House Chief Of Staff, and of course from the Kentucky Fried Movie, Cleopatra Swartz.  Thank you readers…I think.

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Shock The Casbah’

Full piece here.

A very good analysis of the current Hamas-IDF skirmish in Gaza, and where it fits into other trends in the Middle East, with an interesting, modest proposal at the end (you’ll have to click through):

‘Today, we have to reverse the arrows: The ups and downs of the Palestinian impasse, like whether it is kinetic or not at any given time, have become instrumental with regard to the far more consequential future of politics in Egypt. Egypt is now less reliably useful to the United States as a mediator in Israeli-Palestinian affairs, but it has become far more important to the United States because its uncertain future will ramify across the entire, now destabilized Arab world, and also impinge significantly on the role of Iran and Turkey amid the Arabs.’

Related On This Site:  Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”..

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’

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From Foreign Policy: ‘Emergency Routine’

Full post here.

A little slice of life from Israel:

‘Israel is once again at war, yet civilian life continues — more anxious, more subdued, but unpanicked and resolute. At this point, 23 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in the violence, and Israel is taking the first steps toward a ground invasion.’

Related On This SiteVia Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’From The L.A. Times Via Volokh: ‘Prosecution of Students Who Disrupted UC Irvine Speech By Israeli Ambassador’

From The New Yorker: ‘Obama And Israel’Repost: A Few Thoughts On The Current Israeli Military Operation Into Gaza: A Shift In U.S. Attitudes

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Via Haaretz: ‘Hamas Military Chief Ahmed Jabari Killed By Israeli Strike’

Full piece here.

‘Ahmed Jabari, head of Hamas’ military wing, was killed Wednesday in a targeted strike by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Islamist group said an Israeli airstrike hit a car in the Gaza Strip, killing both Jabari, who ran the organization’s armed wing, the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, and a passenger.’

What’s the U.S. strategy here?

Addition:  Escalating tensions.

Another:  Still escalating.  Hamas firing rockets aimed at Tel Aviv.

Related On This SiteVia Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’From The L.A. Times Via Volokh: ‘Prosecution of Students Who Disrupted UC Irvine Speech By Israeli Ambassador’

From The New Yorker: ‘Obama And Israel’Repost: A Few Thoughts On The Current Israeli Military Operation Into Gaza: A Shift In U.S. Attitudes

Al Qaida back in AfPak: Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Report From The Middle East: Part One’

Full post here.

Some analysis of the Israel/Palestine situation:

‘This is the reality and it is a bleak one.  Peace is no closer than at any time since 1948 because neither side is yet willing to settle for what it can actually get.  Israelis don’t want a small and insecure state with a Palestinian enemy next door; Palestinians don’t want a weak microstate that fails to solve the refugee problem. There are some people on both sides who are willing to accept peace on those terms — but not enough.’

Related On This Site: Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘French Secularism Dies In the Middle East’From The New Yorker: ‘Obama And Israel’…The Hamas Charter is pretty scary:  Repost: A Few Thoughts On The Current Israeli Military Operation Into Gaza: A Shift In U.S. Attitudes?

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Michael Totten At Pajamas Media: ‘Darkness In Palestine’

Full piece here.

Some observations on the ground:

‘Last summer I visited Hebron, one of the darkest and most hate-stricken cities in the West Bank, a place most tourists visiting the Holy Land for a sun-drenched Levantine holiday would not dream of setting foot. Six years ago I took my mother to Beirut and even down to Beaufort Castle overlooking Hezbollahland and the Israeli border area, but I would not take her to Hebron. This is a city where a few hundred Jewish “settlers” make their home at the bottom of valley surrounded by Palestinians who have been trying, sometimes violently, to drive them out for a very long time.’

Related On This Site:  From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

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Daniel Levy At Foreign Affairs: ‘Same Netanyahu, Different Israel’

Full essay here.

‘Israel’s parliament, its politics, and its public discourse have all shifted to the right, in the direction of Netanyahu’s Likud party. The rump Zionist left-of-center in Israel’s Knesset has shriveled from 43 members in 1996 to just 11 today.’

There are many more settlements now, too, Levy points out, as well as a shifting demographic:

‘In 1996, Israel’s population was 5.7 million people; today, that number is 7.75 million. The two fastest-growing population groups are the Palestinian Arab community and ultra-Orthodox Jews (known as the Haredi).’

Were the left-of center Zionists bringing a much needed vision of democracy to the table?  Obama’s universalist vision seems to be aiming for peace and a dated conception (Levy argues) of the two-state solution, which has consequences for Israel (which Netanyahu addressed yesterday).  Does Obama have the wisdom and leadership to back up the risks he is taking…according to these principles?

Lurking behind the new round of Western involvement and hopes for an Arab spring lie an existential hatred of Israel (and political expedience in drumming it up), potentially weakened autocrats, much more tribal societies, disaffected youth with few limited economic and educational opportunities, some radical and some radicalizing Muslims, a troubled relationship with the concept of Western Church/State and separation of powers…etc.  All of this seems worthy of consideration, as Israel surely considers such problems.

Am I right back to the Clash Of Civilizations? Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Also On This Site:  A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Obama Embraces His Inner Bush’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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