In an extraordinary op-ed in today's New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin – a former KGB agent – lectures our country and our president about many things, finishing with rather patronizing remarks about American exceptionalism and the equality of men.Writes Putin:
"I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is 'what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional.' It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
First, although his own record deviates profoundly from his stated belief that "God created us equal," his assertion is itself correct. However, it is noteworthy that last year, the same New York Times that today published the ultimate oligarch's exhortation to the land of the free detailed his wealthy lifestyle, which makes that of multiple czars combined seem minor. Consider: more >>
Our allies among the Syrian rebels have issued a memorandum to the State Department on strategies for the day after Assad falls. David Ignatius reports in his column today that the Free Syrian Army (SFA) has outlined a "Damascus plan" for "handling the power vacuum in case of a sudden Assad collapse." This plan is grossly flawed.
Not the least problem, as Ignatius points out, is that the plan relies on the United States - presumably using American troops - to take out not just Assad's stockpiles of chemical weapons but also the command and control for them. President Obama and his chief congressional supporters have ruled out American boots on the ground in Syria. Right? (See Andrew McCarthy's important observation regarding this pledge.)
Another crucial point in the rebels' strategic memorandum involves revenge killings. This is a major concern, as the Syrian conflict is at its core a civil war within Islam. The regime identifies with the minority Alawite sect that is allied with Hezbollah militias supported by Shiite theocratic Iran, while the rebels, largely Sunnis, are bolstered by al-Qaeda terrorists and other Sunni jihadist fighters and supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Sunni regimes. Christians, who account for 10 percent (or more, when Iraqi refugees are counted) of the population and who have not taken up arms in this conflict are viewed by the two sides as aligned with the regime. They are the most vulnerable, since they have no militias or army to protect them. more >>
On August 20, 2012 President Obama warned against chemical weapons' use in Syria, declaring it a "red line." On Dec. 3, 2012, Obama repeated his warning to Assad, saying "The use of chemical weapons is...totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable."
Last April, Britain, France and Israel concluded that chemical weapons had been used in Syria. On June 13, the Obama administration finally concluded that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians.
But nothing happened after that -- except a conclusion by the Syrian regime that it can continue to use such weapons with impunity. Indeed, United Nations Middle East envoy Robert Serry claimed in July that the United Nations had received 13 reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria. On August 21, Assad gassed to death 1,429 civilians. more >>
After constant exposure to critically important news, it begins to lose all meaning and sense of urgency. Hearing the same warnings over and over again-especially when the status quo seems static-can cause a certain desensitization, a resigned apathy that ignores the warnings in the wishful hope that they won't materialize. This hope becomes more optimistic (and passive) with each passing day that the warnings do not materialize.
One of the most evident examples of this phenomenon is the threat of a nuclear Iran. For years, the international community has been hearing about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons; for years, the world has been hearing Iran make bold, genocidal threats-most notoriously, that it will wipe the state of Israel off the map. But so far, Iran reportedly still has no nukes, and no large attack has been launched on Israel. Thus, many have become desensitized to the situation-including those charged with ensuring that a nuclear Iran never becomes a reality.
But that reality has never been closer, as we are warned in Noah Beck's recent novel, The Last Israelis. It is our current proximity to apocalyptic war that makes Beck's doomsday warning about a nuclear Iran so compelling. If the worst comes to pass, this chilling attempt to rouse the West from its torpor could turn out to be that final, horribly prophetic alert that went unheeded. more >>
As the world continues to read and debate the merits of a controversial biogrpaphy of Jesus Christ, one professor from a Vermont academic institute will be offering his own scholarly work.
Scheduled to be released in December, Jesus: The Human Face of God, by Middlebury College Professor Jay Parini, will be the first installment of a series of biographies known as the "ICONS Series." In an interview with The Christian Post, Parini explained that he had many reasons for his interest in writing the work, including his longstanding interest in Jesus Christ.
"Mainly, I've been thinking about Jesus for over fifty years – my father was a Baptist minister, and I grew up in an evangelical community," said Parini. more >>
The persistent talk and speculation as to what the U.S. should do about the crisis in Egypt is irrelevant. What will happen in Egypt will happen regardless of what the U.S., or any other country, does or doesn't do about it.
Egypt is seized by the forces of change-albeit a painful change that could, and possibly will, cause much damage to that country. It is the price it pays for decades of political, economic, and social stagnation. Egypt's present experience is the result of a lack of gradual change that should have taken place over time and in stages.
In order to perpetuate their position of power, Egypt's rulers prevented socio-political change to take place. And as time passed by, the opposition gradually retreated to increasingly radical positions. It was the fear of this radicalization that General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi toppled Mohamed Morsi's government. more >>