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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 13, 2014 / 15 Sivan, 5774

The end of illusions

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | On June 10, President Obama said that the greatest frustration of his presidency was the failure to pass gun control legislation. It was the same day that Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical splinter of al-Qaeda. The next day, Tikrit was taken by the militants, who are now preparing for the battle of Baghdad. These gains followed months of ISIS conquests in western Syria, lending reality to the previously absurd pretensions of the group's name.

For an American president, the world is a banquet of frustrations. But the collapse of much of the Middle East into civil war, sectarian conflict, war crimes and terrorist-exploited chaos should rank higher on the list. In Syria, 6.5 million people are internally displaced by a multisided war that has featured civilian bombings, torture, forced hunger and poison gas attacks; more than 2.8 million have fled the country; more than 9 million need humanitarian aid. Perhaps a third of Lebanon's population consists of refugees. And Syria's Sunni insurgency has spilled into Iraq, gaining momentum by exploiting local grievances.

In this light, it is worth rereading Obama's May 28 West Point commencement address. The United States' departure from Iraq without a status-of-forces agreement was offered as an (attempted) applause line. On Syria, Obama claimed credit for refusing to "put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war" — resisting a blunder that no one had recommended. He talked of decimating "core al-Qaeda," while non-core al-Qaeda was taking cities in Syria. He vaguely promised to "ramp up" support for the Syrian opposition, which has come to regard such promises as worthless. He proposed a new "Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund" — an executive action in the category of bringing a knife to a regional conflagration.

As of his West Point speech, Obama believed he had gotten his Middle Eastern policy just about right. He employed it as a model of restraint. "The president has tended to see Syria as a beckoning morass, the bottom of the proverbial slippery slope," says Ambassador Frederic Hof of the Atlantic Council. "He has thought that by holding Syria at arm's length he could avoid being drawn into something difficult and complicated."

But risk aversion, it turns out, can multiply complication. Because the United States refused to coordinate an effort to arm the responsible opposition in Syria, there has been no pressure for the regime to engage in serious peace negotiations. Bashar al-Assad has found barrel bombs more effective. In Geneva talks last November, American officials were left with no plan except to (pathetically) hope for Russian and Iranian diplomatic favors, which never came. Countries such as Turkey and the Gulf states, left leaderless in the region, have often funneled support to radicals. The United States has supplied weapons to the Iraqi government to fight militants in western Iraq while (incoherently) refusing to arm people fighting the same enemy 100 miles to the west in Syria. Now a few thousand militants, with roots in the Syrian conflict, threaten to destroy the Iraqi government, along with the remnants of U.S. credibility in the region.



This should be the end of illusions. Sometimes risk aversion can be a very risky option. The mere containment of Syrian chaos would have required a more activist U.S. policy — coordinating Middle Eastern and European powers to create a balance of forces on the ground that might have encouraged a power-sharing agreement among less horrible regime elements and less horrible opposition groups. Some variant is still Syria's best (but fading) hope.

Outside the administration, the unsentimental have sometimes argued that it is not a bad outcome for Assad's forces and the Sunni Islamists to kill each other in a stalemate. Apart from being immoral — content with the slaughter of civilians — this also turns out to be stupid. It is only a stalemate until new battle-hardened extremists are produced who unravel neighboring countries or board planes to destinations unknown.

Hof suspects that, within the administration, "a major course correction is under consideration now, although I worry whether or not it would result in an effort sizable enough to make a difference on the ground." After years of defining staying out of the Middle East as success, this may now involve saving the Iraqi government, actively coordinating support to the Syrian opposition and bolstering state institutions in Lebanon and other highly stressed countries.

President Obama has shown no appetite or aptitude for this role — but refusing it now would be a massive failure.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Michael Gerson's column by clicking here.



Previously:



06/06/14 Obama ditches his party: How the prez exposes Dems to risk
06/03/14 Obama's global war on straw men
05/30/14 Conservatives can do better than a do-it-yourself philosophy
05/16/14 Individualism gone awry: Social disconnection explains inequality.
05/09/14 Republicans regrouping: The establishment fights back
04/29/14 The payoff of a college education
04/04/14 Our dysfunctional Senate
03/25/14 Obama is learning is learning the lessons of inaction -- one hopes
03/21/14 The GOP's need for creative policy
03/18/14 Can Obama Rise To Carter's Level?
03/11/14 Ukraine shakes up the GOP debate over foreign policy
03/07/14 The U.S. retreats: History tells us who will fill the vacuum
02/28/14The GOP is struggling to redefine itself
02/25/14 Physics is enjoying a golden age
02/18/14 Syria's refugees: Assad uses mass atrocities in the civil war
02/11/14 Burke and Paine, a rivalry that still reverberates
02/03/14 A rendezvous with irrelevance
01/31/14 Obama's thin agenda: The State of the Union lacked a theme
01/28/14 Obama breeding distrust of liberalism
01/24/14 Our complex president: Is his intellectual style actually good leadership?
01/21/14 The power to intimidate . . . on the Left
01/17/14 Gates hits his target
12/31/13 A dismal year in politics, for Republicans and Democrats alike
12/24/13 The war on Christians
12/17/13 The exhausted parties: What have politicians accomplished?
12/06/13 My numbered days: My cancer diagnosis gave me the clarity of mortality
11/22/13 C.S. Lewis: Rescuing desire
11/19/13 Former bridge burner starting to build them to save GOP
11/15/13 Entrepreneurs of outrage: Fear and anger sweep up policy issues
11/01/13 What Obamacare has cost Dems
10/29/13 In 6 months will this column prove prophetic?
10/22/13 Obamacare repair: It could become a crisis for modern liberalism
10/04/13 The GOP should speed Obamacare's demise. Right now, it's not
10/03/13 The tea party's revolt
09/30/13 The end of compromise?
09/17/13 A state of paralysis: Congress, Obama need to act
09/12/13 In full retreat on Syria
09/10/13 Obama misunderstands wartime leadership
09/09/13 Rallying around a gesture
08/30/13 The preacher and the politician
08/27/13 Is Obama's oft-cited best-case scenario in Syria still even possible?
08/23/13 Jordan's wary welcome
08/20/13 The hardest goodbye: A parent letting go
08/16/13 For GOP, opposition shouldn't only mean obstruction
08/13/13 Crazy, humane determination creates breakthrough for millions
08/09/13 America's bubble of complacency
07/01/11 The GOP's ideal America
03/04/11 The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation
03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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