NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.
Efraim Inbar & David Weinberg (U.S. Strategic Fatigue Worries Israel)
In fact, America wants out of the Middle East, they suggested. Out of Iraq; out of Afghanistan; and to a certain extent, out of Israeli-Palestinian affairs, too. The U.S. certainly has no zitzfleish, or stamina, for truly confronting a nuclear Iran.
You could almost feel the exhaustion in the room. America is overextended, we heard. While the tenor of the discussion was not isolationist, the positions expressed indicated an inclination to disengage from overseas commitments. Call it strategic fatigue.
Even more disturbing was the hint that America’s withdrawal from the Middle East stems from a deeper, more ideological place. It’s not just fatigue. It was hard to shake the feeling that American foreign and defense policy practitioners — at least those close to the current administration — no longer want to project American power in the Middle East because they no longer believe in the justness of doing so.
President Obama’s difficulty in openly identifying with American exceptionalism is well known. He seems embarrassed by, has often apologized for, the exercise of American power. The shadow of such feckless thinking seemed to loom over the conference.
Yet, strategic fatigue and ideological indolence were only one part of the pictured we Israelis were presented with in New York. We also found policy confusion.
… All this reinforces the Israeli view that Washington has lost it. A mix of strategic weariness and naïve ideology supporting a half-baked doctrine of sporadic intervention for humanitarian reasons is a recipe for growing uncertainty about American wisdom and leadership. Many Middle Eastern states will distance themselves from an unreliable U.S., especially if its leaders appear to be misguided amateurs.
A confused and unpredictable America is even more frightening than a tired superpower. A Middle East without clear and strong American leadership is a very unruly place, especially for Israel.
FP: My take is that America does not really “want” out. It is more or less out. Major domestic and foreign policy incompetence induced steep decline which, in turn, caused power loss. The Obama policy of engagement is an attempt to gain the friendship of the strong horse in the ME, the islamists, in the delusion that they will be kinder to it on its way down. Good luck with that.
AlMasryAlYoum: Brotherhood leaders announce they’ll implement Sharia, set off storm
Mahmoud Ezzat, the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy Supreme Guide, said in a forum held in the Cairo district of Imbaba on Thursday that the group wants to establish an Islamic state after it achieves widespread popularity through its Freedom and Justice Party. Meanwhile, Brotherhood leader Saad al-Husseiny, said at the forum that the group aims to apply Islamic legislation and establish Islamic rule. His remarks rattled the leaders of several political parties, who said the statements, which were at odds with the concept of a civil state, would worry liberals.
The Coptic Orthodox Church decided to suspend its dialogue with the group after additional Brotherhood leaders said it was seeking to implement Islamic Sharia and declare Egypt an Islamic state, church sources said. The sources said the Brotherhood is trampling over the principles of equality and citizenship, and that its rhetoric changed after the 25 January revolution to adopt the language of the toppled regime.
FP: Democracy Arab style
Barry Rubin: Obama’s Passover Message Misses The Message of Passover
There’s some controversy about President Barack Obama’s Passover message. The key passage is this:
“The story of Passover…instructs each generation to remember its past, while appreciating the beauty of freedom and the responsibility it entails. This year that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa.”
… I think the greater problem here is the endless universalizing of specifically Jewish experiences that are never seen as sufficient in their own right, as well as the basic opportunism of making Passover into an event backing Obama Administration policy.
…It remains to be seen whether recent events in the Middle East will ultimately be ones of liberation for the people living under the new regimes. It should already be obvious, however, that the result in Egypt is dangerous for Israel’s security and probably very bad for U.S. interests.
Lebanon and the Gaza Strip have gone the opposite way from liberation with no serious U.S. effort to reverse events or even realization that what has happened is disastrous social transformation at the hands of radical Islamism assisted by Iran and Syria. Indeed, in Iran and Syria, two places where change could be genuinely liberating, the Obama Administration has done nothing to help.
More genocidal-minded radical nationalist and Islamist forces may come to power elsewhere. The main concern stemming from Obama’s Passover message is that he still has no clue about such things. Indeed, I think Obama genuinely does not understand that social transformation and change can be a very bad thing.
PowerLine: Obama as political historian
Barack Obama is a creature of the modern university and therefore an amazingly shallow man. I have written about his historical howlers in the New York Post column “Anti-terror oops,” in the Weekly Standard column “The Kennedy-Khrushchev conference for dummies,” and in the Power Line post “Obama veers into the Daily Ditch.”
Obama’s historical ignorance could be a full time beat for somebody who does this work for a living, and it tells us something truly important about Barack Obama. His ignorance is as broad as it is deep. Not that you couldn’t deduce that on your own from his performance on the job.
Yesterday he was at it again, in his peevish interview with the feisty local broadcast reporter from Texas. Why are you so unpopular in Texas? the reporter asked. Obama being Obama, he was unable to laugh off the question and say he’d do better next time around. Obama responded: “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons.”
Has the guy ever heard of LBJ? You know, the fellow who first brought us socialized medicine? Has he ever read a single volume of Robert Caro’s monumental biography of LBJ? It’s hard to miss the extent to which the Democratic Party dominated Texas politics for the duration of LBJ’s (long) political career.
Obama majored in political science at Columbia. Did he miss the fact that Texas was part of the solidly Democratic South — the slaveholding, segregated, Jim Crow South — more or less from statehood in 1845 until Nixon’s 1972 landslide?
Did Obama skip class the day he might have learned that in the the postbellum South, including Texas, the Republican Party was virtually nonexistent? Apparently so. Or maybe he was just de
Christopher Hitchens: Beware the In-Laws
Does Kate Middleton really want to marry into a family like this?
Myself, I wish her well and also wish I could whisper to her: If you really love him, honey, get him out of there, and yourself, too. Many of us don’t want or need another sacrificial lamb to water the dried bones and veins of a dessicated system. Do yourself a favor and save what you can: Leave the throne to the awful next incumbent that the hereditary principle has mandated for it.
Andrew Ross: Human Rights, Academic Freedom, and Offshore Academics
The rush to create universities abroad, especially in countries with authoritarian governments, can come at a high cost: from exploitation of migrant labor to uncertain protection of free speech and basic rights.