Placing blame and claiming victory may be non-starters in married life, but politics and diplomacy operate under different rules (or maybe it's just dysfunctional).The West can't take credit for achieving Mideast peace if it blames Israel prematurely; JStreet knockoffs are proliferating even as the brand takes a hit; with Iran sanctions behaving like a sieve, Washington is pushing major weapons sales to stave off a resurgent Iran. Chavez celebrates his new set of invisible clothes; and China learns that total victory carries costs as well as benefits. Selected links, to stories that missed the front page, follow below…
- Shai Franklin
Despite The Jerusalem Post's juicy headline, the State Department and UN Secretary General only expressed "disappointment" (not condemnation) over the reported resumption of West Bank construction. The British have expressed "regret". Everyone is pushing for talks to continue, especially as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon holds his courtesy call with Minister Lieberman – and George Mitchell is packing for another extended trip.
“JStreet Europe”, known formally as JCall, has opened a branch in Germany. Good luck convincing all those Russian-speaking Jews and guilt-laden Christians that Israel needs to roll over for the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the original JStreet got outed as a one-third Soros initiative, after cannily denying any such thing for its first two years. As evidence of this snowball moment, the most recent story is automatically the most comprehensive. Will candidates start scrambling to refudiate their JStreet endorsements, or will they use this to hit up Soros directly?
IRAN - TO SANCTIONS NO SANCTION UN sanctions against Iran sound like a good thing. But if the bulk of UN member states don't implement those sanctions, there appear to be no consequences -- even though Security Council decisions are binding.
Another surprise: The $60 billion arms sale being planned for Saudi Arabia, including nearly 100 F-15s and 70 Apache helicopters, is all about shoring up Gulf security in the face of Iran's nuclear weapons program and generalized threat to the region. And look for another $50 billion shopping spree among UAE, Oman, and Kuwait. Pity the leaders of Bahrain... They're trying to prevent an Iranian-backed Shia resistance that could cast out the ruling family and end Bahrain's economic and strategic romance with the West, but rights groups fear the harsh security measures they're using could end up yielding a similar result. Look for democracy to win out.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is trying to turn a mid-term electoral defeat into a great victory for the people. Having sat out the last legislative elections, the Venezuelan opposition stepped up to take back some of the seats in Parliament. But rest assured, Chavez still owns the casino. Chavez opponents who win election in local districts find that their constituents get denied basic public services. Rigging of elections and selective prosecution are other hazards of running against the state apparatus.
CHINA IN A BULL SHOP
News of America's demise may have been exaggerated, or at least Beijing is finding it still needs Washington. President Hu will visit the White House in January, and if China reinstates the bilateral military cooperation, that may signify that China has used up its "we are the world" points. Results are in from tests like the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and North Korea's sinking of the Cheonan, and China is starting to see that the trillions in U.S. debt don't translate directly into global domination.