An introduction to our symposium “Is America in Decline?,” held jointly with England’s Social Affairs Unit.

Burke was right!
We are only five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

—Barack Obama, October 2008

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
—Barack Obama, April 2009

Civilizations die from suicide, not murder.
—Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History

Decline is once again in vogue.1 When we began contemplating a symposium on the question “Is America in Decline” last spring, little did we think that our finger would be so firmly on the pulse of the Zeitgeist. Look around: kindred symposia, essays, and special sections have sprouted up like mushrooms. Some have employed the same title we chose—“Is America in Decline?”—but I’ve noticed a gradual ratcheting up of the rhetorical volume. The current issue of Foreign Affairs, for example, screams in seventy-two-point type: “Is America Over?”

English is not as formal as Latin in distinguishing between questions that are genuine questions and those that expect a certain answer, Yes or No as the case may be. This gives writers and editors a little epistemological wiggle room. “Is America in Decline?” “Is America Over?” Are those genuine questions or covert declarations? You have to read on to find out. Let me say straightaway, then, that we intend our question mark to be a neutral interrogative. There are plenty of sobering observations and depressing statistics in the essays that follow. But the (generally gleeful) certitude that the answer to such questions must be Yes is hasty if not misplaced. The rejoinders “That depends” and “Compared to what?” never seem to receive the attention they deserve.


Credo quia absurdum. “I believe because it is absurd.” It is a mantra I have used often here in The Jewish Press in reference to Israel’s persistent security dilemma.At this latest time of testing for Israel, this mantra – an ancient Latin adage – may once again become the Jewish state’s most “reasonable” exclamation.

Ironic, perhaps, but why not? When, after all, have Israel’s critical victories ever been explicable in ordinary military or political terms? When have we ever been asked to believe, convincingly, that an utterly beleaguered country, half the size of Lake Michigan, would somehow be able to survive by combining advanced technologies, coherent military planning, and manifestly clever strategic operations?

At its core, Israel’s “being” is really about the incontestable meanings of “aliveness.” We Jews, both in our prayers, and in our sacred rituals, have always understood the difference between life and death, between the “blessing” and the “curse.” Now, in essence, all Jewish survival, individually and collectively, recognizably or obscured, is inextricably bound up with survival of the Jewish state. Reciprocally, the macro concern of Israel’s physical survival is now always a question about the individual Jew writ large.


The U.S. and Biblical Israel

By now, most Americans know that the “two-state solution” is no solution to the war that supremacist Muslims have been waging against the state of Israel since its rebirth in 1948. Most Americans in public life know it too, but in public, nearly all of them pay lip service to the idea of a Palestinian state. To do that plausibly, they have to studiously avoid any public mention of facts about the Palestinians that make it glaringly obvious that a Palestinian state is not in America’s national interest; and glaringly clear that empowering the Palestinians and the forces and ideas they represent is a self-destructive policy — a threat to our national security and a defeat for our values.

In the last Republican primary debate of 2011, Newt Gingrich broke the rules, giving voice to three undeniable facts about the Palestinians. He said: “These people are terrorists,” with an “invented identity,” and they teach their children that hating and killing Jews is their highest purpose in life. Michele Bachmann quickly backed him up with a factual account of the ubiquitous Saudi-financed textbooks that teach precisely that, from pre-school through university. Proper foreign-policy types, on and off the stage, reacted as if all this truth-telling were somehow akin to profaning a sacred script, but the Iowa audience was with the truth-tellers. They applauded wildly.



I pray you are like me and adamantly refuse to give up your freedom of speech.

If we lose our freedom of speech what will we lose next? Freedom of religion? Freedom of opinion? Freedom of choice? etc?

Our enemies, the fanatic Islamists, want to restrict us from exercising our constitutional right of free speech. Below are instances where they have in one way or another, attempted to, and or succeeded in, limiting our freedom of speech.

One effective non-violent tool the Islamists use is threat. There have been a number of hotels, noted below, that have been threatened, and subsequently caved in, canceling already booked anti-Jihadist events that displeased Muslims.


Meet the Taliban leader Obama wants to release from Guantanamo

As Michael notes, the Obama administration wants to open peace talks with the Taliban and reward them before they even come to the table by releasing senior Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay. Fox News reports that a senior U.S. official has confirmed that “Mullah Mohammed Fazl is among the prisoners being considered for release.”


I remember watching older college friends mastering the Pinochle deck, and then later becoming pretty good myself.

Four-handed Pinochle, pitting opposing pairs of players against each other, was the most popular version, but I soon learned the far more personal three-handed variety as well. The latter involved each player working just for himself; inevitably, this led to two teaming up against the player in the lead…for the time being at least. I recall my late father, of blessed memory, getting upset with me and my younger brother over this. We tried to explain that it was nothing personal…but to no avail.

Keep this in mind as we proceed.

As promised, President Obama has pulled all American troops out of Iraq before the end of the year…for good or for bad. Washington’s war in Mesopotamia is now officially over.

I’ve written lots about this subject over the decades, and my work has been showcased in scores of analyses in print and web publications all over the world. Some examples include the heavily Nobel Laureate-sponsored, Fall 1981 academic journal, Middle East Review ; inclusion on the recommended reference list of Paris’s acclaimed Institut d’Etudes Politique (Sciences-Po); my interview in The Kurdistan Tribune; analyses in the Kurdistan Regional Government’s own publication; dozens of op-eds in web publications such as, the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, and others as well; major print newspaper articles; etc. and so forth.

Before continuing, for the reader new to Iraqi politics, a review of the following sample articles should prove to be useful. I’ll start out with the latest, before this current analysis, and then provide several earlier op-eds from different sources as well…

Iraq: What Not To Do …

State Department Math …

Why The Double Standards? …

Who Won’t Be Making Jokes About WMD …

What’s Your Plan B ? …

Okay, enough of the background stuff…let’s move on.

The power-sharing plan in Iraq’s post-Saddam, American-backed federal games gave representatives from each of the three major religious and ethnic blocks key positions in government—Shi’a Arabs, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds.

To no one with functioning neurons’ surprise, no sooner did America exit the scene, there was a return to an upsurge in sectarian violence. Scores of Shi’a were recently blown apart by Sunni suicide bombers.

At the same time that the above was happening, the Sunni Vice President, Tariq al-Hashemi, had taken refuge in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north—a guest of Iraq’s President, and one of the two main Kurdish leaders, Jalal Talabani. The Shi’a Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, accused him of orchestrating hit squads against Sunni enemies.

As I’ve written often before, if ever there was a counterpart to the now extinct non-nation nation of Yugoslavia, Iraq is it.

Millions of diverse peoples who hated each other were brought together after the break-up of empires in the wake of World War I. And just as the glue which held together the former was manifested in a powerful, feared dictator (Marshal Tito), the same held true for decades in Saddam’s Iraq. When Tito passed on from Earth, Yugoslavia’s days as a unified state were numbered. Likewise, I wouldn’t place bets on the long-term unity of Iraq with Saddam now gone either…short of massive outside intervention, once again, to further others’ interests.


The evil of small minds has triumphed over all that is good intellectually and morally at Harvard.

Professor Diana L. Eck is a supporter of smooth-talking radical Islamist Tariq Ramadan, whom she describes [1] as “one of Europe’s deepest and most articulate Muslim thinkers… one of the most powerful exponents of a reformist, self-critical, spiritual and dialogical Islam.” She is also a defender of Boston’s notorious Roxbury Mosque [2] (whose former and current trustees, mullahs, and congregants have known ties to terrorism and to preaching violence). Now she has successfully led the pack against Professor Subramanian Swamy. Last year, in December, he was dismissed [3] after twenty years at the summer school on the basis of an op-ed piece [4] he wrote in an Indian newspaper about the obvious and growing danger of Islamic terrorism in India, including the 2008 and 2011 jihadic massacres in Mumbai.


With Russia’s announcement that it will build a new 100 ton intercontinental ballistic missile – apparently pursuing its own nuclear modernization program — the Cold War, it seems, has returned. Russia is building a system with the ability to quickly add hundreds of new warheads to its inventory. And it is conveniently placing the blame on Washington for a continued nuclear “arms race.” This accusation helps both the Kremlin and the American critics of US military modernization by adding yet more leverage against any US efforts at nuclear modernization.

The whole idea of “arms control” has been to reduce warheads to make the early use of nuclear weapons in a crisis unlikely. During the height of the Cold War, however, the former Soviet Union would repeatedly justify its nuclear missile modernization programs as a response to American missile programs, and echoing the American critics of our own nuclear deterrent program who portray the United States as the serial aggressor and Moscow as the aggrieved party.

Out of that concern was born what was then called the “nuclear freeze.” If the United States stops its nuclear weapons programs, it was argued, the Soviets will follow suit. But, as one skeptic, former US Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, wryly noted, “We build, they build. We stop, they build.”


Yes – and I’m sure they’re going to promise to be good little boys and not kill Americans ever again.

The Guardian:

The US has agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantánamo Bay in return for the Afghan insurgents’ agreement to open a political office for peace negotiations in Qatar, the Guardian has learned.

According to sources familiar with the talks in the US and in Afghanistan, the handful of Taliban figures will include Mullah Khair Khowa, a former interior minister, and Noorullah Noori, a former governor in northern Afghanistan.

More controversially, the Taliban are demanding the release of the former army commander Mullah Fazl Akhund. Washington is reported to be considering formally handing him over to the custody of another country, possibly Qatar.

The releases would be to reciprocate for Tuesday’s announcement from the Taliban that they are prepared to open a political office in Qatar to conduct peace negotiations “with the international community” – the most significant political breakthrough in ten years of the Afghan conflict.

The Taliban are holding just one American soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, a 25-year-old sergeant captured in June 2009, but it is not clear whether he would be freed as part of the deal.

“To take this step, the [Obama] administration have to have sufficient confidence that the Taliban are going to reciprocate,” said Vali Nasr, who was an Obama administration adviser on the Afghan peace process until last year. “It is going to be really risky. Guantánamo is a very sensitive issue politically.”


Political theories and Jewish realities

What would have been the reaction of the British left if Adolf Hitler had been victorious in 1940 and successfully conquered the United Kingdom?

Clement Attlee and the Labour Party leadership would have undoubtedly fought on the beaches and the landing grounds. Its members would have joined the resistance or fled to Canada to establish a government-in-exile. They would never have surrendered. But what would have been the approach of the Communist Party of Great Britain?

How would British communists have coped with the albatross of the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact between the Nazis and the Soviets around their necks? Would they have adopted the French model when the Nazis marched into Paris – and merely distributed leaflets? Was armed resistance forbidden in 1940?

Would British communists – as did their Czech counterparts – have regarded the German invasion forces as simply fellow-workers in uniform, with whom their British counterparts should fraternise?

Stalinists, Trotskyists, colonial nationalists, revolutionary Marxists; the fate of the Jews was not at the top of the agenda

One common rationale for the Nazi-Soviet pact was that Stalin was buying time to build up his forces in the event of an inevitable German invasion. Others have suggested that Stalin was waiting for the antagonists to exhaust themselves so that the Red Army could march into Western Europe – and “liberate” the working masses.

What would have happened if the Nazis had eventually come for the Jews in Britain in 1940? Was their fate ultimately inconsequential in the greater scheme of things? Was their sacrifice in the short term a sad necessity so that the Soviet Union might live? Would British communists have remained inactive out of a rigid loyalty to the USSR and therefore supported Stalin’s pact with Hitler? On the other hand, would the anti-fascist inclinations of both Stalinists and Trotskyists have propelled them to do something to save Jews?