The Bookworm Beat 2-23-15 — Post-Vegas edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI do like Vegas. I love its manic energy, crazed corporate imagination, over-the-top shows, brilliant colors, and flashing lights. And then, after three days, I’m desperate to get away from the noise and smoke and, often, the desperation floating above the casino floors. In other words, I had a great trip there and then was glad to come home again. This time, coming home also meant going through about 800 backed-up emails (a lot of people got heartfelt apologies from me for delaying so long before responding to them), and finding some awesome things to share with you.

A glowing French eye-view of American troops

When we think of the French, we tend to think of hyper-critical people who look down upon Americans. That stereotype might be true on the Île-de-France, but it turns out to be untrue in the theater of war, at least as to one French soldier who served with American troops (Echo Company) in Afghanistan. If this doesn’t make you want to stand up and salute, I truly don’t know what will:

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A pox on moral relativism — we’re fighting the good fight; ISIS is not

ISIS is escalating its death cult antics, so the usual suspects are decrying the fact that King Abdullah of Jordan is leading his troops to battle against ISIS.  I think it’s time for a little moral clarity:

What ISIS fights for v what the West fights for

And yes, I’m fully aware that Jordan lives in a twilight area between Middle East and West, but it’s clear that Jordan, from King Abdullah on down, fully understands the existential battle being waged near its borders.  Moreover, unlike Western nations that shelter behind moral relativism to ignore the Islamists’ sadism, slavery, and slaughter, Jordan has chosen to stand against the ISIS death cult and fight for what is, in the Arab Middle East at least, a fairly enlightened political system.

Obama — enemy to Israel, and to peace and stability in the Middle East

I’ve never doubted Obama’s fundamental anti-Israel beliefs, nor have I ever thought he’s on a right, or even a sane, track in the Middle East. As much as anything, though, my feelings regarding Obama’s Israel/Middle East attitudes were predicated on a gut attitude resulting from his pre-presidency friendships and his execrable Cairo speech. Now, though, after almost three years of his presidency, the evidence is in, and Barry Rubin explains that my instincts (and yours too) are born out by the facts:

In a major address on U S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama Administration’s view of the region. When taken along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on the same subject, we now know the following regarding Obama’s policy:

It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstand the Middle East. They are 180 degrees off course, that is heading in the opposite direction of safety.

Despite the satisfactory state of relations on a purely military level, the Obama Administration is not a friend of Israel, even to the extent that it was arguably so in the first two years of this presidency.

It is now an enemy; it is on the other side.  Again, the issue is not mainly bilateral relations but the administration’s help and encouragement to those forces that are Israel’s biggest enemies, that want to rekindle war, and that are 100 percent against a two-state solution. And I don’t mean the Palestinian Authority, I mean the Islamists.

And the Obama Administration is also a strategic enemy of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. It is also a strategic enemy to the democratic opposition forces in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Having analyzed and studied the Middle East for almost four decades I say none of this lightly. And these conclusions arise simply from watching what the administration says and does.

Read the rest here.