Politics & Current Events

Israel, “Progressive” Politics and Growing Anti-Semitism

Jul 9th, 2016 | By

As I have reported in past editions of Issues, Israel faces the ongoing absurdity of the BDS movement—the efforts by western governments and individual citizens to “boycott, divest and sanction” (BDS) Israel. At the end of 2015, the European Union (EU) adopted rules that wine coming from Israel, some of which is produced in the West Bank, must be labeled “Product of the West Bank (Israeli settlement).” This effort to boycott or sanction Israel for its policies in the West Bank has been growing in the EU, which exports heavily from Israel.

The Demise of the Postwar Order

Jul 2nd, 2016 | By

At the end of World War II, the United States and its victorious allies constructed an entire new world order based on military and financial treaties and alliances that were to promote the goals of global peace, security and economic prosperity. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank were the institutions created to foster these postwar goals. Intense nationalism and high protective tariffs (taxes on imported goods) were seen as the enemies of this new order and these institutions were designed to balance nationalism with globalization and tariffs with a penchant for free trade.

The Frightening Nuclear Ambitions of North Korea

Jun 26th, 2016 | By

President Barack Obama had a dream when he became president; a dream of a nuclear-free world, or at least one of a significantly reduced nuclear threat. He has made progress on nuclear-arms reduction and non-proliferation. In 2010, he signed a strategic-arms control treaty (a new START treaty) with Russia. He sponsored or hosted a series of nuclear-security summits intended to stop fissile material getting into the wrong hands. Finally, of course, is his infamous deal with Iran to restrict for the next 10-15 years (not end) Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But there is one nation that represents an abject failure of President Obama’s vision—North Korea.

Transgenderism and Public Bathrooms: The New Civil Right

Jun 11th, 2016 | By

As a result of the Supreme Court ruling last June legalizing same-sex marriage, the social battleground has shifted to transgenderism. Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have added a pop-culture dimension to transgender issues, and President Obama has made it an issue of rights protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Michael Scherer of Time magazine writes that “with the power of federal purse strings, the Obama Administration has declared that all students must be treated equally regardless of gender identity, defining innate feelings of male and female identity as legally protected rights.”

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: