The Atlantic »

The Question the Iran Hawks Haven’t Answered

June 24, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has waged wars to unseat the rulers of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, wreaking chaos and destruction in the process. The consequences—for American power and prestige, for the American troops killed and wounded, and for the people whose countries disintegrated into civil war—have been catastrophic. Given this dismal track record, one might think no policy maker, politician, or pundit would advocate attacking yet another government in the greater Middle East without answering a simple question: What happens after the bombing starts?

Most of the commentary advocating war with Iran fails this test.

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The Atlantic »

AOC’s Generation Doesn’t Presume America’s Innocence

June 21, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

On Monday night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared in an Instagram video that “the United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.” The following morning, Liz Cheney tweeted, “Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.” After that, the fight was on.

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The Atlantic »

Unpacking the Immense Popularity of Shtisel

June 20, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Last Wednesday, Gady Levy, the executive director of the Streicker Center at New York’s Temple Emanu-El, herded the Israeli actors Neta Riskin and Dov Glickman through the cavernous synagogue’s hallways. Riskin and Glickman, who play the daughter-father pair Giti and Shulem on the Israeli television show Shtisel, had just left a room jammed with donors waiting to get their picture taken with their favorite characters. Downstairs, another group was awaiting its photo-op. Outside the building, the line for the main event—a panel discussion with the actors—took up an entire block on Fifth Avenue and curled halfway down both 65th and 66th Streets.

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The Atlantic »

Bolton Keeps Trying to Goad Iran Into War

June 20, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

The conventions of mainstream journalism make it difficult to challenge America’s self-conception as a peace-loving nation. But the unlovely truth is this: Throughout its history, America has attacked countries that did not threaten it. To carry out such wars, American leaders have contrived pretexts to justify American aggression. That’s what Donald Trump’s administration—and especially its national security adviser, John Bolton—is doing now with Iran.

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The Atlantic »

Braininess Is Now the Brand

June 14, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Among the biggest surprises of the Democratic presidential campaign so far are the rise of Pete Buttigieg and the resurgence of Elizabeth Warren, both of whom, according to a new Des Moines Register poll, have moved into a virtual tie for second place in Iowa with Bernie Sanders. In many ways, the Buttigieg and Warren phenomena are distinct: Buttigieg promises generational change; Warren is almost 70. Buttigieg emphasizes his success in a conservative state; Warren stresses her willingness to challenge corporate power. Buttigieg has become a darling of the big donors whom Warren eschews.

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The Forward »

Netanyahu Has Changed The Democratic Party – One Candidate At A Time

June 12, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

If you don’t think Benjamin Netanyahu has changed the debate about Israelinside the Democratic Party, just listen to Pete Buttigieg’s foreign policy speech yesterday at Indiana University. Buttigieg is no radical; he’s a darling of the post-Obama Democratic establishment. And yet he said things on Tuesday that would have been unthinkable during Obama’s campaigns.

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The Atlantic »

Democrats Are Avoiding the China Question

June 10, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Listening to the Democratic candidates for president, you would probably not know that globalization, as it has existed for the past several decades, may soon cease to exist. Since at least the turn of the century, the close ties between the United States and China, which together constitute 40 percent of the world’s GDP, have bound the world economy together. But this deep interdependence—which is sometimes called “Chimerica”—may not survive Donald Trump. It’s not just his tariffs on Chinese goods, and China’s retaliatory tariffs on American products, which if not repealed will likely depress trade between the nations. Trump is also building a wall between China’s and America’s biggest companies. In May, his administration forced Google to stop supplying crucial software to Huawei, the world’s second-largest smartphone maker. China will likely respond by bolstering its own suppliers so it’s never at America’s mercy again.

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The Forward »

Opinion 13 Democrats Recorded Messages About Israel. Only One Spoke With Courage

June 5, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

The mantra of Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign is “Brave Wins.” Yet in her video message to the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum this week, the New York Senator didn’t even mention the word “Palestinian.”

That was typical. The 2020 Democratic hopefuls talk a lot about having the courage not just to challenge Donald Trump but to transform America’s political and economic system. But with the exception of Bernie Sanders, the leading contenders couldn’t muster the nerve to offer any substantive criticism of Israeli policy in front of an establishment Jewish audience, even by video.

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The Forward »

It’s Time to End America’s Blank Check Military Aid to Israel

May 22, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

Last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared that American aid to Israel is “something that can be discussed” in Washington. Her comments made news precisely because America’s policy of giving Israel billions in aid without expecting any policy changes in return hasn’t actually been discussed — or at least questioned — in either party in more than a quarter-century. That needs to change.

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The Atlantic »

Even Democrats Keep Thinking Iran Is Worse Than Saudi Arabia

May 21, 2019 | post a comment | Philip Johnson

With ideas like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are challenging the ideological parameters that have defined American domestic policy since the Reagan era. If only they were doing so on foreign policy too.

Consider their responses to President Donald Trump’s recent escalation with Iran. Yes, one Democrat after another has called on Congress to prevent Trump from going to war. But Democrats have not frontally challenged the core assumption underlying Trump’s belligerence: that Iran is a uniquely malevolent actor in the Middle East.

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