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Zach Segal

Ron Paul’s dangerous policy of peace

The only thing more disconcerting than the International Atomic Energy Association’s (IAEA) latest report on the Iranian nuclear program was Congressman Ron Paul’s troubling response to it. The most recent report of the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear program presents scathing evidence that Iran has reached breakout capacity and has “sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device.” Moreover, evidence has been presented that Iran’s nuclear program has been overwhelmingly directed toward weapons development and military use. In a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, Congressman Paul offered his thoughts on the recent report. He criticized the sanctions that have been placed on Iran, declaring them “an act of war,” and stated that we could thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions by “offering friendship to them.” He then defended his argument by saying that America has talked with other hostile nuclear powers such as Soviet Russia and China during the Cold War.  While Ron Paul’s foreign policy preaches an isolationist, pacifist and “pro-peace” ideology, there is a striking incongruity to it. The Congressman’s anti-war message could possibly be the most perilous of any of the other GOP candidates.For instance, the Congressman’s implication that America’s hostility towards Iran has pushed the Islamic Republic farther away, and his suggestion that offering friendship would bring about peace, illustrates a naïve and frankly embarrassing misunderstanding of current Iranian-U.S relations. Despite the sanctions placed on Iran by Obama, no U.S. President has given the Iranian regime more overtures than the current one. During the 2008 campaign, Obama campaigned on a message of dialogue with Iran, and even reiterated Paul’s comments that America negotiated with other hostile nuclear powers during the Cold War. On the first day of the Obama administration, during the Presidents inaugural address (before Obama even set foot in the Oval Office), the commander in… Read More

Optimism is futile: the case of Gilad Shalit

As with most people, I genuinely hate to be pessimistic, but, as with most pessimists, I can’t help it. Upon learning that captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would be returned home safely, I originally intended to write an article promoting a positive message of peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, that message of peace and prosperity will once again elude the state of Israel.I foolishly believed that October 18, 2011 would be the day that a real peace - not just peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, or Israel and Hamas - between Israelis and the Palestinian people, would be within our sights. With the eyes of the world on Israel and the Palestinians as they dramatically exchanged prisoners, an idealist peacenik’s dream easily came to mind. This dream, wherein we would all finally view the conflict through the eyes of the family and friends who have suffered, was finally within reach.I truly felt that Palestinians and the Arab world would see the heartbreaking footage of Shalit being reunited with his family the same way that Israel and the global Jewish community saw it. For once, it appeared that the families - not the politicians - were the important ones in the conflict, and that compassion would transcend borders. Palestinians being reunited with Palestinians, while an Israeli was simultaneously reunited with his country, genuinely made it appear that something truly great was in our grasp. I sincerely believed that the Israeli and Palestinian publics were seeing the conflict through each other’s eyes, and that there was a window of opportunity for both people to unite over the mutual cause of love for one’s family.These beliefs crashed on the rocks of a tragic Middle Eastern reality. Haaretz documented a rally in Gaza welcoming home the newly released mass murderers: “The joyous crowd crammed… Read More

Erdogan paying cost to be boss

When Middle Eastern dictators and despots aspire to greater regional influence, they generally engage in public affairs campaigns to earn respect on the Arab street. Middle Eastern public affairs campaigns are slightly different from those conducted in the Western world, and they certainly do not involve David Axelrod and Hillary Clinton going on Sunday evening talk shows.   Despite the constant evolution of Middle Eastern political culture, the playbook for Middle Eastern dictators changes little; within it is a set of specific procedures to be followed diligently by any ruler who wants to make a name for himself beyond his own borders. For such ruffians, exploiting the Palestinian cause and bearing down on Israel is the tried-and-true strategy for increasing one’s regional stature.It only takes a few seconds to bring to mind a plethora of objectionable characters who have unnecessarily provoked conflict with Israel. Gamal Abdel Nasser, leader of Egypt from 1956 to his death in 1970, springs to mind. Nasser sought to export his brand of nationalist statism, stretching Egyptian economic capacity to protect the short-term interests of Arab nationalists by force (as in Yemen), while growing his own political capital on the Arab street. The culmination of this was a leader who, to this day, remains the most hostile national leader the Jewish state has confronted in its entire history. Not because Nasser cared about the Palestinians (the Gaza Strip was miserable and underdeveloped under Egyptian occupation), but because “championing the Palestinian cause” was a sure way to increase his popular support base.Muammar Gadhafi felt he was Nasser’s successor, ready to carry the torch after the Egyptian leader died in 1970. In the wake of Anwar Sadat’s defeat in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, he assumed guardianship of the tattered flag of authoritarian nationalism. To cultivate mass support at home and… Read More