When it comes to nuclear deterrence, there is no difference between how it is perceived among the nuclear rabbis of Israel and the nuclear mullahs of Iran. The nuclear rabbis are the Likudniks and other right wing politicians of Israel’s official community who are committed to saving the Jewish state through the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear mullahs are their Muslim counterparts of the Islamic republic who hold similar views about the use of nuclear weapons. The chief difference is that the perception of the nuclear rabbis is deemed sacred, valid, and legitimate in Washington and in other Western capitals, while that of the nuclear mullahs is regarded as phony. As such, the nuclear deterrence of the mullahs is not regarded as a serious rationale for the survival of the Iranian government. However, as a concept, nuclear deterrence is supposed to be valid, since it becomes the chief rationale forwarded by Israel and Iran to establish legitimacy of their respective nuclear weapons, while declaring that legitimacy as invalid for the other state. The ayatollahs are fully aware of that reality.
The recent assassination of the Governor Salman Taseer of Punjab, the most populous state of Pakistan and the state that formulates a large chunk of its Army, raises that perennial question: Is religious moderation dying in Pakistan? Assassin’s bullets are notorious about leading to major cataclysmic events, and one should be careful about reading too much into such events. However, in Pakistan’s case no amount of broad sweep of analytical thinking may be regarded as exaggeration. Continue reading “Is Religious Moderation Dying in Pakistan?”
The United States went through a near-miss terrorist attack during the Christmas holidays. A Muslim, this time a Nigerian Muslim, was involved. Consequently, the country is going through another silly season whereby a number of “experts” with diarrhea of the mouth are eagerly expressing their idiotic views. At the government level, there is an outcry for finding who (which bureaucrat or which bureaucracy) was sleeping on the job, or who failed to “connect the dots.” The process of condemning Muslims is on with a vengeance. One suggestion is that the United States should abandon the attitude of political correctness and racially profile every Muslim traveler. After all, they say, Israel is doing that as a matter of course. However, no one stopped to think that Israel is an island, a small and insignificant nation, compared to the lone superpower, which claims not to be at war with Islam and Muslims. Sarah Palin, who desperately tries to sound intelligent and coherent in order to peddle her book, made the news by stating that profiling Muslims is quite appropriate.
The real test of President Barack H. Obama’s dealing with China and Russia will emerge in his success to persuade those countries to support the U.S. in pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear weapons aspirations. Obama has reported to have lobbied China on that issue during his recent visit. He also broached Russia in the recent past for the same purpose, but with little success. Iran denies having such aspirations, but Washington has no faith in those denials.
Continue reading “Obama’s Challenge: Building Sino-Russian Support on Denuclearizing Iran”
“Where is my vote?” That was the question on signs held by hundreds of irate Iranian voters. The world media zoomed in on those signs. They will be long remembered in the same way as the lone courageous protestor who blocked a rolling tank during the Tiananmen Square protest in June 2003. After weeks of protests and repression of protestors in Iran, the prospects for a U.S.-Iran dialogue are as remote as the potential nullification of Ahmadinejad’s reelection.
The Financial Times, a right of center but highly respected newspaper, could not resist about coming up with a sensational headline: “Hizbollah confirms broad aid for Hamas.” The Hizbollah-Hamas connection is not exactly an unknown variable, only its specifics are. Even after the admission of Hezbollah’s deputy leader that his organization is providing military assistance to Hamas, the issue still remains murky and unconfirmed by other sources. Why, then, is there so much hoopla about Hezbollah’s admission of support for Hamas? Because that reality only underscores the effective exercise of “smart power” on the part of Iran–Hezbollah’s chief backer–in the Sunni Middle East. That is also worrying the United States, which, under the Obama administration, is relearning to come up with its own smart power-related maneuvers towards Iran.
President Barack H. Obama spoke to the Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, 2009. Symbolically, that day will always be remembered every time someone raises the issue of the United States’ relations toward the world of Islam. The following statement he made that day will go down in history as a memorable one: The United States is “not and never will be, at war with Islam.” He made the same statement for the first time in Turkey two months prior.
The ongoing positive diplomatic overtures of President Barack H. Obama toward Iran definitely point to a new beginning, but the time has come to go beyond diplomatic symbolism. Iran is listening, and is sending clear signals that it wants to see concrete policy changes as evidence of America’s earnestness. Speaking of policy changes, the Obama administration, as well as the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has to narrow a very wide gulf of ill-will, animosity, and hostility that has been in the making for the past thirty years.
dispatch reads: “Tony Blair makes his first trip to the Gaza Strip.” In the growing global economic meltdown, the world has forgotten the suffering of the Palestinians who became victims of Israel’s “war” against Hamas. How can there be a war between the most well equipped military of the Middle East and a state which does not even have an armed force of any credibility. But this is the era of asymmetric war, and Hamas did launch rockets or missiles on Israel. Those terror weapons did not cause much damage, but they provided a “justification” for Israel to let loose its military wrath on the civilian Palestinians.
Looking at the tepid global reaction to the massacre of the civilians in Gaza, one wonders whether the conscience of the international community is half asleep or is suffering from something called sympathy fatigue. Hundreds of civilian casualties, incessantly escalating human misery, and with no end in the Israeli military action in sight, even God seems to have abandoned them. At the same time, it should be said unequivocally that Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of missiles on Israeli cities is a repulsive act. One U.N. official involved in rescue attempts stated that Gaza has turned into hell. That, alas, seems to be the fate of Muslims in many places.