Tuesday, March 16. 2010
Trolling through Andrew Sullivan's blog today -- something I don't
do all that often -- and found a few items of some interest:
Blaming America First:
First up to attack Obama for getting insulted by Netanyahu are
Senators McCain and Lieberman. After the jump, Eric Cantor chimes
in, calling the suggestion that Israel should stop its illegal
settlement building "beyond irresponsible."
Chart of the Day: Top (black) line is national health expenditures
as percentage of GDP, from 5.2% in 1960 to 17.7% today. Peeling off
are projections had previous health care reform plans been passed --
one each for Nixon, Carter, and Clinton. Also shown is the OECD median,
which tracks the slope of the reform plots. One thing that's worth
noting is that the growth rate was slower for terms of presidents
who tried (and failed) to implement reforms, and much faster under
presidents (Reagan and the Bushes) who made no effort at all.
From the Annals of Chutzpah: Quotes Karl Rove on Biden-Netanyahu
and other foreign policy matters (he cites Honduras), where he depicts
Obama as: "a cowboy president try[ing] to act in an extra-constitutional
way to violate a fundamental principle in the Constitution, all without
having done their homework in advance."
Why Beijing and Washington Don't See Eye to Eye on Security: Quotes
A Feigenbaum: Why Is U.S.-China Strategic Coordination So Hard?,
specifically on how China doesn't feel threatened by situations that
scare us silly -- specifically mentioned: Iran, Pakistan, North Korea.
I'll add two more reasons: one is that China is less judgmental (and
therefore less hypocritical) of other countries; another is that China
doesn't have soldiers scattered all over the world. In both respects,
the US would be better off learning to chill out, and letting broadly
representative international organizations like the WTO and the World
Court take over the task of scolding countries that stray from norms.
On the other hand, China can get awfully sensitive where its borders
are concerned, as we've seen recently in their flap over the Dalai
Lama, or with Taiwan.
The Sanctions Debate: Quotes
Friedman: Getting over the sanctions delusion, on why US sanctions
hardly ever work -- they punish people without power for the supposed
sins of those who have power. Needless to say, further sanctions against
Iran fit that same pattern. On the other hand, this argument doesn't
mean that sanctions aren't appropriate in cases where they appear to
support, and are in turn welcomed and supported by, masses who are
oppressed by those in power. South Africa is the classic case where
sanctions worked. These arguments don't disqualify Israel as another
case. On the other hand, I suspect that the turning point won't be
implementing sanctions; it should be sufficient just to tilt the US
and Europe against propping up Israel's colonial occupation. The US
was very late on South Africa, and never officially implemented any
sort of sanctions, but the Afrikaner elites moved quickly once the
wind changed. As for Iran, sanctions seem to be a stall tactic for
lack of any willingness to actually try to bridge differences.
Goldblog Splutters: Starts with a series of maps on Palestinian
land loss: the first showing actual land ownership split between
Palestinians and Jews in 1946; the second the UN Partition Plan
split; the third the armistice lines from 1949-67; the fourth only
the parts with more/less limited Palestinian Authority are shown.
The maps don't quite track the same thing, but the sense of loss
is matched in reality. The actual population split in 1946 was
about 32% Jewish, but most Jews lived in cities, and the major
Zionist effort to purchase lands and establish kibbutzim had run
into a wall at about 7% of the total land in Mandatory Palestine.
Presumably there are still some splotches of Palestinian-owned
land in Israel, especially in the West Galilee which saw relatively
few expulsions during the 1948-49 war. The PA has also picked up
some former settlement areas in Gaza since 2000. On the other
hand, Palestinian control of "Palestinian land" in 2000 was weak
under the PA and significantly weakened since 2000 as Sharon and
his followers worked to undermine the Oslo accords and with them
any vestige of Palestinian sovereignty. Sullivan picked up these
maps from Juan Cole and used them in an earlier post, which
Jeffrey Goldberg attacked.
The Much-Delayed Response to Goldblog: An earlier rebuttal
of an earlier Jeffrey Goldberg attack.
More pieces here and there on Israel, including a link to a
relatively sane one by Goldberg arguing that Obama's plan is to
realign Israel's government to produce a more moderate Kadima-Likud
coalition instead of the current ultraright Likud-Beiteinu-Shas
alignment -- my guess is that the government would fail first, and
that Netanyahu is unwilling to join any coalition that would give
Obama the satisfaction of even a lame solution. Also lots of pieces
on the Vatican's sex crime cover-ups.