The Obama administration has exempted Turkey, India and South Korea from sanctions that are to be imposed on Iran on July 1 (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Other than China, what significant purchaser of Iranian oil has NOT been granted an exemption? And why is Roger Simon calling this development 'reassuring'?
A balancing act is evidently in progress here, with the U.S. encouraging various powers (India and South Korea are Iran’s second- and fourth-largest oil buyers, according to Reuters) to reduce their oil purchases from the mullahs a significant amount, but not too much. Too much could have a negative impact on the precarious global economy and possibly even Obama’s reelection chances.
But the chosen six-month exemption time frame gives these discussions a window wide enough to get past our elections, a fact undoubtedly not lost on Netanyahu and the Iranians.
FP: It looks like Iran holds better cards than the West and the whole sanctions process is a mockery. And an American president conducts foreign policy of critical concern to the US based on electoral considerations.
Concern stems from reports that Assad may be losing control over certain military capabilities including air defense base; Hezbollah might move missiles to Lebanon to stop rebels from capturing them.
FP: Between Hizb’allah and the Jihadist rebels in Syria, who is better to get their hands on Assad’s weapons? Nice circumstance.
Reform and Conservatives in decline; more than a million Jews now live in New York City
FP: I wouldn’t call this exactly progress.
Peter McKay: Syria's dead are victims of the new Cold War
But the so-called Arab Spring — of which the Syrian civil war is part — is a far more complex event than credulous innocents in the West imagine. It’s not simply uprisings by ground-down peasants against tyrants who repress them.
It’s about a transfer of power to rival clans and/or religious groups. And about a continuation of the old, U.S.-Russia Cold War stand-off.
Thomson says of the rebels who, as he saw it, tried to lead his team into deadly peril: ‘In a war where they slit the throats of toddlers, what’s the big deal in sending a van full of journalists into a killing zone? It was nothing personal.’
Like most of you, I imagine, I rejoiced at the downfall of Gaddafi and the blooming of the Arab Spring, and couldn’t understand why we were standing by while Assad brutalised his people.
But in the cold light of dawn, reality is messier, and now there is a suspicion that our sympathies for the downtrodden were hi-jacked by new oppressors, whom our own U.S.-UK ruling regime hopes will be more useful in their great game.
FP: When I wrote that the West will be nostalgic about Arab dictators, I was right. It will also realize why there were no Arab democracies and why dictators were indispensable to keep the beast in check.
In my book, I contend that faith and fertility are inseparable, because a nation that has faith in its future will bring new generations into the world, while a nation that has lost faith in itself will not trouble to do so. The faith of Christians and Jews can thrive in modernity - witness America and Israel, by many gauges the most modern among industrial nations as well as the most religious and most fertile. But modernity and Islam appear incompatible. As soon as Muslims (and especially Muslim women) become literate, fertility drops below replacement, as in Iran, Turkey, Algeria and Tunisia.
This analysis is consistent with Eberstadt and Shah's implicit argument that spiritual rather than material circumstances explain the Muslim fertility decline. Education in this case is a proxy for the transition of Muslims, and especially Muslim women, out of traditional society into a modernity that does not host Muslim mores. Where data is available within individual Muslim countries, I reported in my book, demographers have found a close relationship between fertility and education by cohort of population. Exemplary in this regard is the IIASA's 2008 paper "Education and the World's Most Rapid Fertility Decline in Iran," by a team of demographers headed by Wolfgang Lutz. 
Sketching the potential consequences of the demographic revolution for the Ummah, Eberstadt and Shah call attention to the economic consequences of rapid aging in poor countries, a problem I characterized as a "train wreck." They warn of the impact of rapid population aging on relatively low income levels":
The lower a country or territory's fertility, the more powerful the demographic pressure for population aging over the subsequent generation. With extremely rapid fertility decline - and the descent into sub-replacement fertility - a number of Muslim-majority populations are already set on course for very rapid population aging. Over a dozen Muslim-majority populations, under current US Census Bureau projections, would have higher fractions of their national populations over the age of 65 by 2040 than the US. today. Today these same places enjoy only a fraction of US per capita income levels ... How these societies will meet the needs of their graying populations on relatively low income levels may prove to be one of the more surprising and unanticipated challenges of the fertility revolution now underway in the Ummah.
FP: I don’t doubt that secularization has a negative effect on fertility. But there are a couple of issues with Goldman’s causal argument.
One of the first things they used to teach in social science research methods, when they still considered that of some importance, is that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. There is at least one other possibility—spurious correlation—which means that some third factor affects two other factors and causes them to correlate. It is possible that education on the one hand weakens religious faith and on the other reduces fertility, as education emancipates women and they are no longer as willing to be baby-producing machines, they have some other things to do. I do not know whether Eberstadt and Goldman tested this hypothesis.
Second, Goldman should not so slyly move from religious faith, to faith in oneself and faith in one’s country—they are not the same thing. An argument can be made that the existential threat under which Israel has existed since inception and the related acute inferiority in population size relative to the enemies that surround it reduce faith in the future of the country, which in turns increases fertility, which has little to do with faith.
I do not know enough to assess which of these hypotheses is valid, but I know enough about research methods be wary of definitive conclusions.
Jonathan S. Tobin: Putin to Visit Israel. Not Obama.
Jewish Democrats have been imploring President Obama to visit Israel to no avail ever since he was elected. But while the president has conspicuously avoided Israel during his foreign trips even when visiting the Middle East, the authoritarian running a far less friendly country has no scruples about coming to the Jewish state. The Times of Israel reports today that Vladimir Putin, who recently returned to the presidency of the Russian Federation after slumming for a few years in the prime minister’s office, will be heading to Israel later this month.
Putin will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and dedicate a monument in Netanya to soldiers of the Red Army who were killed during World War II. He will also visit the Palestinian territories and Jordan. The visit will be Putin’s second to Israel as the leader of Russia (he previously visited in 2005) and puts President Obama’s refusal to go to Israel in an interesting light. Even though the president has embarked on a year-long Jewish charm offensive motivated by his desire to hold onto the Jewish vote this November, his decision not to try and win Israeli hearts and minds by coming to their country is curious, especially because it would be to his political advantage to do so.
FP: The decision is not curious at all, see Barry Rubin’s article that has the reasons down pat, which I listed as recommended reading in a previous post.
And I always thought that given the US Israel policy and Obama’s realignment with the Muslims, is in Israel interests to improve relations with Russia and China. They are not worse
Jonathan Tobin: The Beginning of the End for Liberal Jewry
Amitai Etzioni: The Salafi Question