David Goldman: Hopeless But Not Syri-us
No-one is going to push Basher Assad out of power, at least not out of his enclave, not while he’s got Russian support and chemical weapons.
The Russians aren’t going to give up on Assad, and give NATO a chance to attempt another Libyan-style intervention.
The Iranians aren’t going to go in, because the Turks won’t let them.
The Turks aren’t going to go in, because there is massive domestic opposition to going in, and because the Turkish army doesn’t want to expose its weaknesses, and because going into Syria would open up the whole Kurdish can of worms (and also because the Saudis don’t want Turkey to go in, and Saudi Arabia is financing Turkey’s massive balance of payments deficit).
The Sunnis aren’t going to get together because they hate each other too much and are financed by different people.
In a nutshell: Nobody is going to give ground, but no-one is going to take too great a risk to conquer the other fellow’s ground. So the civil war will go on indefinitely. And that’s not the worst thing that can happen as far as American security interests are concerned.
FP: Possible. Even likely. But in the ME there are too many interfering and too much instability and you never know where things will lead when somebody decides to take the situation get out of control for his benefit.
Bill Katz: OH HOW GENEROUS, MY GRACIOUS LEADER
An aide to the Obama campaign says the president will visit Israel...but only if he is re-elected. How do you like that? I mean, why waste time with an ally if you're going down the drain? I don't think it's coincidental that the foreign minister of another close ally, Australia, just said, as we reported earlier today, that America is in decline. Our allies are dismayed by this president. And, oh, by the way, the president has made no commitment to go to the Olympics, being held in the capital city of our closest ally, Britain. He may, we're told, condescend to go if the American basketball team is in contention for the gold. Oh thank you, thank you so much. We don't mean to intrude, sir.
We are in decline under Obama. The Obama forces are already disparaging Romney's overseas trip. Of course they are. He's visiting American allies, those countries for which Obama has so little use.
One reason for our decline is Obama's breaking of faith with allies. You will see little discussion of that in the media.
Australia has always been there for us. When its foreign minister speaks of American decline, we should listen.
FP: I must reiterate: Obama’s election was in itself an indicator of American decline. He would have not been elected had that not already been the case.
As to Israel, by now everybody with half a brain has a pretty good idea what Obama thinks of Israel and what he will do if he gets reelected.Going there will not change the mind of pro-Israel supporters and it’ll only annoy the new Islamist allies. They may even reject US aid. (I doubt it; it’s much smarter to take it and raise a ruckus).
But it’s worse:
Just when we thought Mitt Romney had gotten past his reputation for gaffes, he commits one that is world class, and can seriously damage his presidential prospects.
Ah, how we recall Romney's comment, during the primaries, that his wife drove "a couple of Cadillacs," and other gems that do not endear a candidate to voters.
Now Romney is on a foreign trip, meant to demonstrate that he can play in the big leagues, and restore America's relationship with its allies, marred by Obama's sneering attitude toward old friends. And what does Romney do? He puts his foot in it, big time. As he travels to Britain, our closest friend, he openly casts doubt on whether the country is actually ready to host the Olympics, which start, er, tomorrow. The British press is stunned.
Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has questioned Britain's preparedness to host the London 2012 Olympics and asked whether the country is genuinely willing to "celebrate" the Games.
But he told US television there were "disconcerting" signs about Britain's readiness. "It's hard to know just how well it will turn out," he said. "There are a few things that were disconcerting: the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging."
What? This is what you say about Britain when you're trying to show that you want to restore the alliance? Romney was promptly reprimanded, and publicly so, by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Now Romney is backtracking:
However, Mr Romney later made a second gaffe when he referred to Mr Miliband as "Mr Leader".
“Like you Mr Leader I look forward to our conversations this morning and I have had a number of conversations with leaders both present and past and recongise of course the unique relationship that exists between our nations,” he said.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Thank you, Mitt, for blowing it on your first day abroad. This gaffe will dominate political discussion of your trip, make you look like an amateur, and cost you.
As I predicted from day one, Romney is probably not going to make it. It takes some real talent not to win hands down against Obama. But the fact that all that America could pit against Obama is Romney is an even clearer indicator of its decline.
Walter Russell Mead: Israeli Parliamentarian Shreds a New Testament. World Yawns
A far right member of the Israeli Knesset, Michael Ben-Ari, recently received a copy of the New Testament in his mailbox, a gift from local Christian missionaries. He was not enthused, reports the Associated Press:
Ben-Ari, an Orthodox Jew, was enraged to receive the book, in whose name he says millions of Jews were slaughtered. Ben-Ari tore it up, he said, then posed for photographs with the destroyed Bible.
What’s notable about this incident is that you probably haven’t heard about it. That’s because there were no riots of angry Christian mobs in the streets of Israel or anywhere else in its wake. And most of the outrage that followed came from Jewish groups and Israeli officials tripping over themselves to disavow the act. As Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev told the AP, “We totally deplore this behavior and condemn it outright. This action stands in complete contrast to our values and our traditions. Israel is a tolerant society, but we have zero tolerance for this despicable and hateful act.”
Gee: a hot-headed believer in a particular religious tradition does something tasteless to the holy book of another religion. No howling mobs rage through the streets, burning and lynching; no cells of deranged fanatics hatch terror plots. Instead, more emotionally balanced co-religionists of the original hothead distance their faith from the provocative act.
What’s so hard about that?
Here’s a wild and crazy suggestion: this is how all of us should try to act when faced with some kind of religious or political affront.
FP: By whitewashing or failing to report Muslim violence, while also failing to report the behavior of civilized people the mainstream media is promoting a picture of reality that is upside down and backwards.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Arab Spring: A Blessing for Hamas