Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

5
Dec
By James Jay Carafano

At some point, Hamas and Israel will have had so many armed confrontations that they’ll have to stop naming the operations and just give them numbers. But don’t think these future conflicts will be indistinguishable from what’s happened so far. At some point, these flare-ups could get worse—a lot worse.

Serious Standoff

So far the duels between the Israeli military and Hamas and other armed factions in Gaza have been tactical skirmishes. Neither side has had any notion that they are trying to grab some kind of decisive advantage that would change the standoff that has prevailed—and hardened—since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

After all the back and forth of the last few weeks, Israel can claim that it has decimated Hamas military infrastructure and depleted its war stocks. So what? Hamas can rearm. Hamas can preen that it wrestled some concessions from Tel Aviv, that it garnered pats on the back from Egypt and Turkey and that its stock is on the rise on the Arab Street. Again, so what? The people of Gaza are still caught in the crossfire and saddled with a corrupt regime that can’t deliver peace or jobs. So the two sides are back to the status quo, but with more innocents killed and maimed on each side.

Don’t get complacent. There are plenty of reasons to worry that the stasis will not hold forever.

History Lesson

The Peloponnesian Wars were another nearly endless conflict. That ancient Greek struggle was protracted because neither side could hit at the other’s strength. Sparta could march its armies to the gates of Athens, but it couldn’t breach the walls. At the end of the campaign, all they could do was head home. Athens could sail its fleets to Sparta’s coast, but couldn’t land troops for fear of annihilation at the hands of the Spartan infantry. So Athenian armadas sailed out and sailed back.

While today’s conflict between Israel and Palestine resembles that endless ancient war of nerves and attrition, it may not stay that way forever. And the most likely catalyst to spark change is Iran. Read more…

James Jay Carafano is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

As published in nationalinterest.org on November 29, 2012.

30
Nov

 By Colum Lynch and Joel Greenberg

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority (L) meets with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Nov. 28, 2012.

The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday to grant Palestinians limited recognition of statehood, prompting exuberant celebrations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip and immediate condemnations from the United States and Israel.

The 193-member U.N. body voted 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions, to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state,” a status that falls well short of independence but provides Palestinians with limited privileges as a state, including the right to join the International Criminal Court and other international treaty bodies.

Speaking before the vote, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the U.N. actions offered the only means to salvage a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We did not come here to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel,” he said. “Rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of a state that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine.”

But the United States and Israel said the Palestinian bid would complicate efforts to restart stalled Middle East peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement accusing Abbas of having “violated the agreements” between the two sides, and pledging that “Israel will act accordingly.”

“The decision at the U.N. today will change nothing on the ground,” said Netanyahu, insisting that only direct talks will confer true statehood on the Palestinians. “It will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state; it will push it off.”

Speaking in Washington minutes after the vote, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the U.N. action “unfortunate and counterproductive.” Read more…

As published in www.washingtonpost.com on November 30, 2012.

28
Nov

By Colum Lynch and Anne Gearan

The U.N. General Assembly is poised to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state” on Thursday, a move that will strengthen the Palestinians’ legal basis for pursuing possible war-crimes prosecutions against Israeli troops and set up a showdown with the United States and Israel.

Supporters hope the vote will provide a desperately needed political boost to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party has been eclipsed in recent weeks by rival Hamas, the militant movement whose fortunes have risen with those of its Islamist allies in Egypt and elsewhere.

The Palestinians are expected to win the Thursday vote by an overwhelming margin, according to U.N. diplomats. To date, 132 countries have recognized the state of Palestine.

“I think that the great majority of nations will vote with us because there is a global consensus on the two-state solution,” said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinians’ U.N. representative, adding that 60 states have agreed to co-
sponsor the resolution.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country would back the Palestinian quest, telling the French Parliament on Tuesday that Paris would support a resolution recognizing Palestine as an observer state, the same status accorded to the Vatican.

The vote is likely to roil U.N. diplomatic waters and highlight a rift in Europe over Palestinian statehood. It is also likely to provoke a diplomatic backlash from Israel and concern in Washington.

“We fear Abbas is heading for a dangerous Pyrrhic victory,” said a senior European diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity as per diplomatic protocol. “If the Palestinians believe it will push the Israelis into a negotiation, we don’t believe that. It might backfire for Abbas.” Read more…

As published in www.washingtonpost.com on November 28, 2012.

26
Nov

Helping women strike a work-life balance would change the world more than you might think.

By Anne-Marie Slaughter

I have a split personality these days. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I give speeches on work and family — and the changes America needs to make to enable more professional women to get to the top. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I teach a course on the politics of public policy and give speeches about a wide range of foreign-policy issues. My audiences for the work-and-family talks are often interested in foreign policy as well, but for most people in my foreign-policy audiences, that “work/family stuff” is a completely separate arena, a sideline at best. Sure, individual women and men will often tell me privately that they appreciated the essay I wrote for the Atlantic this summer on why I gave up my high-profile State Department job to return to Princeton University and my two teenage sons, but they see no real connection with the foreign-policy world.

They’re wrong. The connection is there, and it’s a very important one: If more women could juggle work and family successfully enough to allow them to remain on high-powered foreign-policy career tracks, more women would be available for top foreign-policy jobs. And that would change the world far more than you think, from giving peace talks a better chance to making us better able to mobilize international coalitions to reordering what issues governments even choose to work on.

My decision to talk in such specific gender terms is still deeply uncomfortable for many. Foreign policy is a very male world. The women who have made it are a small and close club, all committed to advancing the careers of younger women and worried that even engaging in this conversation could make it harder to break those glass ceilings. Some argue that as long as some women can juggle high-powered careers and kids at the same time, others should just follow their example and get on with the work. Others argue that my analysis shouldn’t be so globalized because it is based on my own unique situation, suggesting that I should have moved my family to Washington. Read more…

Anne-Marie Slaughter, a 2012 FP Global Thinker, is professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and was director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department from 2009 to 2011.

As published in www.foreignpolicy.com (100 Global Thinkers 2012 Report, December 2012).

23
Nov

Enough

By Roger Cohen

Rockets launch from Gaza City as an explosion is seen on the horizon at Israel’s border with Gaza on Wednesday. (Source: www.cnn.com)

Another Gaza flare-up is over — for now. At least 150 Palestinians are dead. Five Israelis are dead. More bloodshed and scars have been inscribed in the 64-year-old conflict’s Book of Unforgiving.

To what end? Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, drones on about past “invaders” who “were faced with defeat,” presumably a reference to the Crusaders. Get a life, Khaled, Israel is here to stay. He says, “Whoever attacks Palestine will be killed and buried.” Well, Palestinians have been losing since 1948 with that sort of talk. I would say at this point the trend is definitive.

Israel, in the person of its U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, defends the Gaza bombing as effective deterrence. “The tactic is deterrence. Our strategy is survival,” he writes of a nuclear-armed state, by far the most powerful in the region, and its supposed need to administer “periodic reminders” to enemies.

Well, ambassador, a powerful Israeli reminder was delivered to Gaza in 2008. Operation Cast Lead left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. Since then Israel’s interest in the “dream” of a two-state peace has been expressed mainly in the expansion of West Bank settlements. And here we are again facing the fact that neither side in the Holy Land is going away.

Speaking of facts, the chief mediator in stopping the latest round of killing was Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president who emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent of Hamas. Until the Arab Spring, the United States shunned the Brotherhood, deemed a band of Islamist extremists. Now Hillary Clinton thanks Morsi for “assuming the responsibility and leadership” that makes Egypt “a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.” Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on November 22, 2012 (a version of this op-ed appeared in print on November 23, 2012, in The International Herald Tribune).

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