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Friday, April 10, 2015

Neville Chamberlain's Black Umbrella

The Munich comparison has been overused to the point that it's triggered boy-crying-wolf syndrome, but in the case of the Iran nuclear "framework" I think it does apply. Obama's supposed deal, which Khameini is now rejecting anyway, leaves in place most of the elements required for a nuclear weapon that Obama himself had said the Iranians didn't need if their nuclear program was really peaceful. If actually agreed, which it won't be thanks to Khameini, the "deal" would trigger a catastrophic nuclear arms race in the Middle East while also being seen as rewarding and encouraging Iranian aggression. This is very similar to the post-Munich dynamic when an emboldened Hitler took over the part of Czechoslovakia he hadn't already been given and invaded Poland, setting off the Second World War in Europe. History doesn't repeat itself, as the saying goes, but it does sometimes rhyme.
For many people, Benjamin Netanyahu's association with a hard line on Iran and his clumsy intervention in U.S. politics makes the hard line itself anathema. To be clear, I still loathe Netanyahu almost as much as when I voted against him in Israel in 1996. (I say "almost" because he has earned some gruding respect as a skilled if demagogic politician--certainly he's no Churchill). The comparison to Munich may be inflammatory, but it isn't exactly random: The Iranian regime may not be as powerful as Germany in 1938, but it is likewise extremely aggressive internationally and given to making constant deadly threats against Israel just as the Nazis were always attacking "world Jewry." I don't question the good intentions of Obama and those who support the "deal" that doesn't even exist yet (and by the way, Neville Chamberlain was a patriotic Englishman who served loyally in Churchill's cabinet). But I believe that even if this "deal" could freeze Iran's atomic weapons development, which I don't believe to be the case, it would nevertheless spur Iran's aggressive international actions, destabilizing the entire Middle East, because it would grant the Iranian regime enhanced legitimacy and aggravate the no doubt unintended perception among the Sunni Arab powers that the Obama administration is "tilting" toward Shiite Iran.

Ayatollah You So!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Passover Bellyachin'

I am eating peanut butter on my matzah, which according to Jackie makes me a "bad Boo" because peanuts are kitniyot, which according to the fanatical and illogical custom of our Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors may not be eaten on Passover. I have declared myself Sephardi Jewish for this holiday, based on my grandmother's folk etymology of her father's original family name of Rapoport as being derived from rofeh, Hebrew for doctor, and puerto, Spanish for port--being "doctors of the port" we must have come from Valencia or somewhere.
If I am wrong, of course, my punishment shall be as one who forgets Jerusalem: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my tongue cleave to the roof of mouth" (Psalms 137:5).

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tom Friedman's Interview with President Obama

The president is eloquent as usual and wrong as he so often is on foreign policy in his interview with Tom Friedman of The New York Times. For one thing, Obama barely acknowledges Iran's aggressive behavior around the region and the dangers it poses. "Engagement" may work in some instances--I agree it's worth a try with Cuba--but it's not a panacea; it will not work in the way Obama means it with a regime whose raison d'etre is "Death to America, death to Israel." The Iranian regime doesn't care about improving economic conditions for its people the way democratic regimes do, so Obama's belief that he can appeal to elements of the regime that think like he does is seriously misguided. Moreover, there is no final deal yet, so for Obama to hail it as a "once in a lifetime opportunity" lets the Iranian regime know, yet again, that he is far more desperate for a deal than they.
And the president's condescending claims that he understands Israelis' fears of what he understands to be mere hostile "rhetoric" from Iran are hollow given his serious threats to turn against Israel in the UN because he is displeased with their re-election of Netanyahu (whom I would never vote for).
And just by the way, it's curious that the same kind of people on the Left who rightly scorned President Reagan's opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa in favor of "engagement," think that's just dandy where Iran is concerned.