Politics & Current Events

Systemic Challenges Beneath the Façade of American Prosperity

Feb 17th, 2018 | By

Over the last year or so, Americans have been on a spending binge. The stock market has reached record levels. (Although, as I am writing, it is falling precipitously, having lost 1300 points in three days.) And the US Congress, at the insistence of President Trump, passed a massive tax cut. America’s GDP is stable, unemployment is low and wages are slowly increasing. But all of this is a façade. One of the significant risks, with all this spending, the tax cuts and rising wages, is inflation, which is one of the reasons the stock market is falling. What I hope to address in this Perspective are the underlying systemic challenges facing America. They are serious and potentially very destabilizing. Let’s review some of these systemic issues:



Is the Two-State Model for Peace Between Israel and the Palestinian Authority Dead?

Feb 3rd, 2018 | By

Arguably, the most intractable Middle Eastern challenge is finding a way to settle the Israeli-Palestinian debate over land. Since Israel’s victorious 1967 War, it has controlled the West Bank and Old Jerusalem, and, since the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, both the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel have accepted the premise of and have been working towards what is called a “two-state” solution, where Israel would retain its sovereignty over much of the land it has held since 1967 but negotiate to create a Palestinian state out of the West Bank and Gaza strip. As 2017 ended and as 2018 has begun, there is speculation that the two-state solution is dead. Why?



Liberty, Global Stability and Nationalism

Jan 20th, 2018 | By

The 20th century witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust and the rise of atheistic communism. That century changed the role of the United States in world affairs. Since the administration of George Washington, the US largely followed the doctrine of isolationism, which was forcefully articulated in the 1823 Monroe Doctrine. But it was Woodrow Wilson’s decision to enter World War I and his subsequent 14 Points, which championed the principle of national self-determination and set the agenda for the 1919 Versailles Treaty, which challenged this isolationism. The US was going to “make the world safe for democracy.”



Democracy and Christianity: Common Ground?

Jan 13th, 2018 | By

History demonstrates that a democracy is very fragile and the American democratic-republic is no exception. As we begin 2018, it is important to remember several salient facts about the American experiment. In a non-ideological way, I believe the case can be made that the American experiment is unique and exceptional, both in terms of its origin and its development.



Is Jerusalem the Capital of Israel?

Dec 30th, 2017 | By

In early December, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also stated that his intent is to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He did not say when he would do that. But that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital is an established fact. The state of Israel has regarded Jerusalem as its capital since its War of Independence in 1948. West Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s president, prime minister, Supreme Court and most government ministries.



The Brutal Legacy of 100 Years of Communism

Nov 25th, 2017 | By

On 7 November 1917 (25 October 1917 by the old Russian calendar) a group of ideological communists (called Bolsheviks) led an uprising that led to the Bolsheviks seizing power and establishing the first major communist government in history. During the years of the Soviet Union, this date was lavishly celebrated as The Great October Socialist Revolution. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of that totalitarian dictatorship, Russians have been confused about how to recognize this important date in their history. This year, 2017, one would expect there to be significant celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. But 7 November 2017 was merely recognized as “the revolution of 1917 in Russia.” No major celebrations or national events were scheduled.



What Does It Mean to Be a Conservative in 2017?

Nov 11th, 2017 | By

Until quite recently, if someone mentioned “conservative” it was rather clear what that meant—generally a commitment to limited government, individual liberty, and free trade. In 2017 the meaning of “conservative” is no longer clear. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas recently wrote: “Last year, for the first time in our nation’s history, the American people elected as president someone with no high government experience—not a senator, not a congressman, not a governor, not a cabinet secretary, not a general. They did this, I believe, because they’ve lost faith in both the competence and the intentions of our governing class—of both parties! . . .”



Is Confucius the Answer to the Spiritual Void in Communist China?

Nov 4th, 2017 | By

Chinese President Xi Jinping is clearly the most powerful Chinese leader in 40 years. As I am writing this the Chinese Communist Party Congress is occurring and that body has enshrined President Xi and his writings into the Chinese Constitution. Only founder Mao Tse-tung had received such an honor. A major concern of President Xi, himself an ardent atheist, is the spiritual void caused by decades of official atheism along with China’s current headlong pursuit of wealth and prosperity.



Stephen Paddock, Las Vegas and the Nature of Evil

Oct 21st, 2017 | By

On the night of 1 October 2017, a gunman opened fire on a large crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, leaving 58 people dead and over 500 injured. Between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m., 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, fired hundreds of rifle rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after Paddock fired his last shot, he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Why he did this is unclear.



Hezbollah: An Emerging Regional Power?

Oct 7th, 2017 | By

Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia founded in the 1980s, has been an ongoing nemesis for Israel on its northern border. It has fought brief conflicts with Israel (most recently in 2006) and has amassed an arsenal of rockets all aimed at Israeli cities and settlements. But over the last five years, Hezbollah has expanded its operations and is no longer merely a Lebanese militia; it has become a regional power of import in the Middle East. Perhaps more importantly, it has become one of the key instruments of Iran in building a powerful Shiite corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean.