Politics & Current Events

The Ongoing Miracle of Israel: Building a Cyber-City in the Negev Desert

May 28th, 2016 | By

Senior columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Ari Shavit, has written that the 20th century was “the most dramatic century in the dramatic history of the Jews. In its first half, we lost a third of our people. But the second half of the century was miraculous. In North America, we created the perfect diaspora, while in the land of Israel we established modern Jewish sovereignty. The Jews of the 21st century have today what their great-grandparents could only dream of: equality, freedom, prosperity, dignity. The persecuted people are now emancipated. The pitiful people are now proud and independent . . . [Israel] is the demography of hope: an almost extinguished people renewing itself.”

Donald Trump and America’s Evangelical Christians

May 14th, 2016 | By

The term evangelical used to be a meaningful term. It normally meant someone who holds that the Bible is the final source of authority; that the Gospel transforms lives; that personal piety is an important quality of life; and that the values, virtues and ethical standards found in Scripture reflect the character of God. But, in 2016, the term “evangelical” carries little substantive meaning. Generally speaking, today’s “evangelical” seems to worship the “moralistic, therapeutic, deistic” god that sociologist Christian Smith has identified in his research. And several American evangelical leaders are embracing a raw, pragmatic ethic in their presidential endorsements.

Thinking Realistically about the Paris Agreement on the Environment

May 7th, 2016 | By

On Friday, 22 April 2016, representatives from 167 nations gathered in New York City to sign the Paris Climate Accord, negotiated in December 2015. Among other things, the signers agreed to slow greenhouse gas emissions. It has been hailed as a pivotal agreement to combat climate change, and President Obama regards it as one of his most important achievements. How should we think about this agreement and will it actually make a difference?

The Revolt against Free Trade and the Global Economy

Apr 9th, 2016 | By

With the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders (Democrat) and Donald Trump (Republican), the specter of protectionism is raising its ugly head again. Both Sanders and Trump favor a wholehearted rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement, all of which the US negotiated with 11 Asian nations. Protectionism is a noun which characterizes a world of high tariffs (taxes on imported goods), the slowing of world trade and the subsequent contracting of the world economy. . . So why are Sanders and Trump against these trade initiatives? Why do they wish to return to a time of high protective tariffs and more difficult barriers to world trade?

President Obama, Vladimir Putin and the Middle East

Apr 2nd, 2016 | By

In the April 2016 edition of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg offers one of the more insightful articles to date on President Obama’s foreign policy—and, since his presidency is nearly over, his legacy. The article presents insights into the mind of President Obama found nowhere else. For me, one of the more valuable aspects of the article, which was based on a series of candid interviews Goldberg had with the president, is Obama’s views of the Middle East. Goldberg summarizes Obama’s perspective: “Obama has come to a number of dovetailing conclusions about the world, and about America’s role in it. The first is that the Middle East is no longer terribly important to American interests. The second is that even if the Middle East were surprisingly important, there would still be little an American president could do to make it a better place. The third is . . .”

America’s Passive World Leadership: The Consequences

Mar 12th, 2016 | By

Former US Senator and vice presidential candidate, Joseph Lieberman, has recently observed: “The simple fact is that there is more instability in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II. . .The absence of American leadership has certainly not caused all the instability, but it has encouraged and exacerbated it.” Lieberman and others have argued as well that with America’s passive role, a vacuum has been created. As with all things, something will fill that vacuum. Consider these facts:

Pope Francis and Patriarch Krill: Healing a Thousand Year Split?

Mar 5th, 2016 | By

On Friday, 12 February 2016, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church (representing 1.2 billion Catholics) and Patriarch Krill of the Russian Orthodox Church (representing 150,000 Russian Orthodox Christians) met in a room at the Havana, Cuba airport. This historic meeting was made possible by the maneuverings of Vladimir Putin, who is closely aligned with the conservative Russian Orthodox Church. In a joint declaration issued after their meeting, among other things, they affirmed, “It is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re-establishment of this unity willed by God.”

Remembering Justice Antonin Scalia

Feb 27th, 2016 | By

On Saturday, 13 February 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia died. Scalia was 79 years old and had been married to Maureen McCarthy Scalia for 55 years. Together they raised nine children (5 sons and 4 daughters) and had more than two dozen grandchildren. He had been a Supreme Court justice for nearly 30 years. Nicknamed the “Leader of the Opposition,” Scalia was indisputably the voice of conservative jurisprudence on the Court and for the larger culture. Arguably one of the most brilliant justices on the Court, Scalia will be sorely missed.

Is Politics the Answer to the Human Condition?

Feb 13th, 2016 | By

The presidential primary season has begun, but, unlike recent elections, we have two extreme candidates—Bernie Sanders on the leftwing of the Democratic Party and Donald Trump, who fits no label. Since he began his run for the Republican nomination, Trump’s positions on key issues have changed radically. It continues to baffle me personally why people find him appealing. As for evangelical Christians, I find it troublesome that he is taken seriously, for his lifestyle, his values, his demeanor and his language bear no resemblance whatsoever to biblical values, virtues, morals or ethical standards. But that is not the point of this edition of Issues, which probes the role politics plays in solving the problems of the human condition. Consider these thoughts:

A New Order for Europe?

Jan 30th, 2016 | By

After the devastation of World War I and the abject horror of World War II, Europe turned a significant corner in world history: Instead of embracing the nation-state with its competing passions for territory and power, Europe made a commitment to integrate itself economically and financially, but not politically. The nation states with their clearly defined borders would remain, but the economies and currencies of those nation states would integrate together into what eventually becoming the European Union (EU). The EU was to be the New Order for Europe. . . Today, that dream of a unified and integrated Europe is under tremendous stress. Indeed, a new European order may be emerging.