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Fear Wins: Israeli Elections, the Morning After

Netanyahu sacrificed Israel’s democratic principles and its relations with the U.S. to win another term as prime minister.

(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) An Orthodox Jewish man walks past a billboard of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, March 16, 2015, a day ahead of legislative elections. Netanyahu won his fourth term as prime minister on March 17. I f there is any credibility left in Israeli polls—a highly questionable proposition—Benjamin Netanyahu won a come-from-behind victory in yesterday’s election. The final opinion surveys of the campaign, published Friday, showed the prime minister’s Likud Party trailing challenger Isaac Herzog’s left-of-center Zionist Union by as many as four seats in parliament, which has 120 members. Exit polls shocked the country by showing a virtual tie. This morning, those of us in Israel who dared to hope for a change in direction awoke with a pounding political hangover. The nearly complete vote count showed the Likud winning 30 seats in Israel’s parliament to the Zionist Union’s 24. The right-wing bloc of parties as a whole...

At National Gathering, Firefighters Not Impressed By Potential GOP Candidates

Ted Cruz elicited more grumbles than laughs with jokes about Hillary Clinton and the IRS. The rest of the Republican presidential field didn't fare much better.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks at the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. I t only took one observation for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, appearing before 700 members of the International Association of Fire Fighters union on Tuesday to eclipse the five Republicans who spoke before him. “There are two very important things that you did not hear from any of today’s Republican speakers,” O’Malley said to the firefighters who were in attendance for the IAFF’s Presidential Forum. “One is a commitment to collective bargaining, and the second is a commitment to increasing funding for public safety.” His comments prompted whistles and a standing ovation, an enthusiastic response from an audience that had remained largely unmoved by the conservative speakers. The GOP’s half-hearted attempt to embrace labor but avoid divisive economic issues at the...

Are You Ready for War With Iran? Here's How It Could Happen

If 2016 lands a Republican in the White House, with a Republican Congress behind him, the war will be all but begun.

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
I t's been a while, so you may have forgotten just what a great time it was for the national security hawks widely known as neoconservatives back in 2002 and 2003. With the memory of September 11 still fresh and Republicans controlling the White House and Congress, there was little to stand in the way of the dream of remaking the map of the Middle East, the region that had so vexed us for so long. Democrats sure weren't going to—most of them were only too eager to show that they weren't lily-livered pacifists, so they provided barely any impediment at all to a new war. Sure, when it came to justifying an invasion of Iraq, the hawks had to exaggerate a little here, twist the facts a little there, spin out ridiculous scenarios everywhere. But it would all be worth it once victory was won. Saddam Hussein would fall, we'd quickly set up a new government, and democracy would spread through the region as a glorious new age dawned, brought forth by the beneficent power of American arms. Then...

Republicans Hankering for Ground War Against ISIS. What Could Go Wrong?

We're going to hear more and more Republican politicians coming out for a re-invasion of Iraq. And how 'bout a strike on Iran while we're at it?

(Sipa via AP Images)
View image | gettyimages.com I t's been an entire 12 years since we started a war, and apparently the American people are getting a little antsy. A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 62 percent of Americans, including 72 percent of Republicans, favors the use of ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We should be careful about over-interpreting that, because the question was preceded by another question talking about limited, but not long-term operations for ground troops. But there's no doubt that the public's interest in getting some boots back on the ground is gaining momentum; in Pew polls , support for ground troops went up from 39 percent in October to 47 percent in February; in the same poll, 67 percent of Republicans said they supported ground troops. The reason I focus on the number of Republicans is that I suspect with this increase in support from their constituents, we're going to hear more and more Republican politicians coming out for what we might call a re-invasion...

Can Liberal Democracy Survive?

Architect of the Capitol
Architect of the Capitol This article appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . I n 1932, on the eve of FDR’s presidency, Benito Mussolini proclaimed, “The liberal state is destined to perish.” He added, all too accurately, “All the political experiments of our day are anti-liberal.” The democracies were doomed, Il Duce declared, because they could not solve crucial problems. Unlike the dictatorships, which were willing to forcefully use a strong state, the democracies could not fix their broken economies. Parliamentary systems were hamstrung politically. The democracies were also war-weary, conflict-averse, and ill-prepared to fight. The fascists, unlike the democracies, had solved the problem of who was part of the community. Mussolini’s ally, Adolf Hitler, was further contemptuous of “mongrelization” in American democracy. Who was an American? How did immigrants fit in? What about Negroes? The fascist states, by contrast, rallied their...

Markets, States, and the Green Transition

To get renewable energy technologies into broad use, government needs to promote both supply and demand. Markets are too risk-averse.

(AP Photo/U.S. Army)
(AP Photo/U.S. Army) This solar array at White Sands, New Mexico, is the largest of the U.S. Army's solar photovoltaic systems. The $16.8 million project includes nearly 15,500 sun-tracking solar panels spread across 42 acres. This article appears as part of a special report, "What the Free Market Can't Do," in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . I f you believe in the perfect efficiency of free markets, then any government intervention, by definition, has to make things worse. Evidence is of no consequence. I once participated in a debate on innovation with two panelists from two of Washington’s most market-oriented think tanks. When I pointed out that a government program—the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—had created the Internet, my opponent was hardly fazed. He responded, in effect, by saying we don’t know whether the private sector might have done it faster and better had the government not been interfering...

How to Sabotage Iran Negotiations in the Name of Avoiding War

Israel and AIPAC are using Congress to push their own agenda of increasing sanctions on Iran and reducing presidential authority.

(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Stage hands prepare the stage for the 2015 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., Monday, March 2, 2015. A s multilateral talks over Iran’s nuclear program continue with the U.S. leading the negotiations, Congress seems to be doing its best to complicate things. And both Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are doing their part to help. Earlier this week, as 16,000 people convened in Washington, D.C., to attend AIPAC’s annual conference, the powerful pro-Israel lobby made it clear that the organization would push not only for increased sanctions on Iran—through the passage of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act —but also for the ability to make it more difficult to lift sanctions later, via a new bill, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act . This latest bill, introduced on Friday by Republican Senator Bob Corker and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, would give Congress a 60-day period to...

Netanyahu's Campaign Road Show Comes to Washington

The Israeli prime minister didn't offer an Iran policy to Congress. He offered dread and overconfidence to Israel voters.

 

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves as he step to the podium prior to speaking before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. I n the end, Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress was precisely what was expected from the beginning, from the day that House Speaker John Boehner publicly invited the Israeli prime minister: an Israeli campaign event before a more impressive and much more sycophantic audience than the Israeli prime minister could have found at home; a Republican show designed to use Israel against President Barack Obama; and a blow to the connection between Israel and the United States that Netanyahu and Boehner supposedly hold so dear. The campaign theatrics were there in Netanyahu's opening lines, when he addressed the leaders of the House and Senate and called special attention to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid—a move meant to distract the Israeli audience from the absence of Vice...

The Perils of Privatization

When a public function is privatized, the result is a muddled middle ground.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
This article appears as part of a special report, "What the Free Market Can't Do," in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . O ne November morning in 2004, three U.S. military men boarded a small turboprop plane at Bagram Air Base near Kabul for a two-and-a-half-hour flight to Farah, a base in western Afghanistan. They were Lieutenant Colonel Michael McMahon, Chief Warrant Officer Travis Grogan, and Specialist Harley Miller, the only passengers on Flight 61. The flight was operated by an affiliate of Blackwater, the private military company under U.S. contract for air transport of mail, supplies, and troops. Forty minutes after takeoff, flying far north of the customary route from Bagram to Farah, the plane crashed into the side of a mountain. McMahon, Grogan, the pilot, co-pilot, and the mechanic apparently died instantly. At the time, McMahon was the highest-ranking U.S. soldier to die in the war. Miller, though he suffered internal injuries, may...

CPAC: Is Carly Fiorina the GOP's Anti-Hillary?

Will the former CEO be the designated nemesis to the presumed Democratic presidential candidate? The optics couldn't be better.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 26, 2015. C arly Fiorina is almost certainly running for president. At first glance, Fiorina doesn’t seem like much of a 2016 presidential contender. Despite that, organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference gave her a desirable speaking slot on February 26, the conference's opening day—just after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and before right-wing favorite Ted Cruz. If elected, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard would not only be the first woman president; she’d be the first not to have held an elected post. She lost her only political race—by double digits—to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer in a 2010 U.S. Senate race. Her only other politics foray was as a surrogate for John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008. In a series of faux pas, she embarrassed the Republican nominee . As the first female CEO...

He Whose Name Shall Not Be Written

Israel's prime minister is the main issue in the upcoming election. That's just what he wants.

(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) The Israeli prime minister speaks to his Likud party members during a campaign event near Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, February 9, 2015. T he French author Georges Perec earned peculiar literary distinction by writing a 300-page novel called La Disparition ( A Void ) without once using the letter "e." His countryman, Michel Dansel, published Le Train de Nulle Part ( The Train from Nowhere ), a novel in which he managed to avoid the use of a single verb. I envy these writers, whose lives were apparently so graced with calm that the only thing they want to exclude from their thoughts was a letter of the alphabet or a part of speech. I live a less blessed life. As an Israeli and a journalist, my aspirations are more limited, yet less within my own power to achieve. I aspire to be able to write about my country's politics without using the name of the current prime minister . I'd like to write my next 300 articles without the N-word. I'd like to think of him, if I...

National Security and the 2016 Election

(Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)
(Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv) Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Israel in November 2012. This article originally appeared at the Huffington Post . Y ou may recall a campus slogan from another era, "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Western civ. has got to go." That was at Stanford University in 1987, part of a wave of demands to limit traditional courses featuring dead white males, in favor of cultural pluralism. Sure enough, many colleges a generation later have more varied courses. Today, however, there are people out there who feel that western civilization really does have to go — not the courses but the thing itself. And they seem to be gaining. Call me sentimental, call me privileged, but I have a certain fondness for western civilization. Let me count the ways. I like the rule of law. I like the Enlightenment sensibility that a wide variety of religions and viewpoints must be accommodated. I like the connection of free speech and free inquiry to the scientific...

Netanyahu’s Curious GOP Connection

The Israeli prime minister's alliance with U.S. Republicans defies the politics of most American Jews.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 29, 2012, during the U.S. presidential campaign. This article originally appeared in the Washington Post. I sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is giving chutzpah a bad name. Over the past several weeks, Netanyahu has aligned himself and his cause with the Republican Party, which an overwhelming majority of American Jews reject , and many actively despise; he has told European Jews to pull up stakes and come to Israel; and, according to a report just released by Israel’s comptroller , he has spent large amounts of Israelis’ tax dollars (well, actually, shekels) on cleaning his private home (to the tune of $2,000 a month) and his wife’s makeup and hairstyling ($68,000 over a two-year period). Like every world leader and, for that matter, nearly everybody else, Netanyahu is fully aware that the...

A Talent for Storytelling

Rick Perlstein tells how Reagan imagined his way into the American psyche.

(AP Photo)
This book review is from the Fall 2014 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here. Simon & Schuster The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan By Rick Perlstein 880 pp. Simon & Schuster $37.50 I n 1959, as the Cold War heated up and the economy cooled down, President Dwight Eisenhower received a letter from World War II veteran Robert J. Biggs. Tired of hearing the president explain the complexities of the modern world, Biggs begged Eisenhower to lead the nation with firm assertions rather than “hedging” and “uncertainty.” The former general responded that such guidance by authority was imperative in a military operation but fatal in a democracy. Self-government demanded that men reject easy answers and instead carefully weigh the often contradictory facts about great issues facing the nation. Just as Eisenhower did, Rick Perlstein’s new book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan , illuminates the deadly attraction of...

Silence of American Jewish Leaders on Boehner-Netanyahu Ploy is Unacceptable

The Israeli prime minister has worked assiduously to transform Israel into an American partisan issue since his first term—never mind the harm to the Jewish state.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio looks on at right as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. M eir Dagan, former head of Israel's Mossad espionage agency, says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scheduled speech to the U.S. Congress is an "excessive provocation" of America and "the gravest blow to [Israel's] security." Dov Weisglass, the closest adviser of late prime minister Ariel Sharon, said on Israel's prime-time version of Meet the Press, that the speech will cause "terrible damage" to Israel. Speaking of talk shows, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters at a Democratic retreat on Friday that if Netanyahu wants to tell Americans his views on Iran, a Sunday morning interview program would be a better venue. Netanyahu is a fixture on such shows, she said. Pelosi didn't say that Democratic lawmakers would stay away from Netanyahu's address on March 3—but she wouldn't...

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