To Read: Michael E.O'Hanlon takes a look at the solid and yet unremarkable legacy of Hilary Clinton as secretary of state-
None of this is to say that Clinton was necessarily a historic secretary of state. The flip side of her caution and deliberation was that her positions were not usually remarkably imaginative. And even an admirer must acknowledge that few big problems were solved on her watch. There was no equivalent of Ambassador George F. Kennan's development of the containment doctrine and associated initiatives, such as the creation of NATO during the Cold War; Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's paving the way for the United States' opening to China; or Secretary of State James Baker's push for German reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In part, this is because there is no single overriding threat or issue today. Further, the problems that do exist might just not be ripe for major initiatives. But the fact remains that there was no big historic breakthrough. And Clinton gained little ground in the battles nearest to her heart -- ending global poverty, tamping down civil conflict in Africa, improving the status of women around the world -- perhaps because they require patient diligence more than big speeches or doctrines. But still, Clinton cannot claim a signature accomplishment just yet.
Quote: "The Syrian people will have their chance to forge their own future and they will continue to find a partner in the United States of America."”, President Obama announcing the American donation to Syrian relief efforts.
Number: $155m, the amount of money pledged by President Obama to help the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
To Read: Reuel Marc Gerecht is skeptical of the idea of Israel finding peace and security by dealing with extremist regimes-
The formula of land-for-peace was always an illusion because it did nothing but abet the growth of those most committed to destroying Israel. It is no coincidence that Hamas gained the most ground against Fatah (the dominant group within the PLO) in the 1990s, when peace-processing was all the rage. Hamas feeds off the peace process, both its perceived successes (Palestinian autonomy throughout Gaza and most of the West Bank) and failures (East Jerusalem remaining in Israeli hands).
Quote: "we will have to make some moderate but still significant cuts is the defense budget, I assume. It is not easy but we did it in the past", finance minister Yuval Steinitz talks defense cuts at a fundraising event.
Number: 20, the percent of the budget Israel spends on defense.
The Middle East
To Read: According to Eric Trager of Foreign Policy, the US must re-evaluate its relations with the Muslim Brootherhood and reconsider its policies in Egypt:
But the Brotherhood's support isn't strong enough to preclude the emergence of a challenger. For that reason, the United States must ensure that it avoids the impression that it is putting all of its eggs in the Brotherhood's basket. Already, non-Islamists are asking why the United States has been loath to squeeze a new ruling party that is neither democratic nor, in the long run, likely to cooperate in promoting U.S. interests. Whether or not these non-Islamists can effectively challenge the Brotherhood right now -- and I am dubious -- they are right in challenging the Washington conventional wisdom that fails to see the Brotherhood for what it is: a deeply undemocratic movement concerned above all else with enhancing and perpetuating its own power.
Quote: "unprecedented levels of horror", peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi describing the Syrian conflict at the UN Security Council.
Number: $300, the amount of money pledged to humanitarian aid in Syria by Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.
The Jewish World
To Read: Adam Kirsch marvels at the ingenuity and intellectual rigor of Talmudic scholars in a piece for Tablet Magazine-
Here, then, is part of what it takes to be a great Torah scholar: the ability to perform feats of memory and logic, to reason strictly from premise to conclusion. Two things strike me about this sacralization of the intellect. The first is that, for the rabbis, this kind of thinking is not just impressive; it is itself the supreme expression of piety, since Torah study is the highest Jewish obligation. We please God most not by feeling or even praying, but by thinking. The second is how very unusual this value system is, historically speaking. Working in the midst of empires—Rome and Persia—which were built on hierarchies of birth, wealth, and force, the rabbis evolved their own aristocracy of mind. Many things have changed since the Talmud was written, but I think it’s still possible to see the ethical and intellectual legacy of this value system in Jewish life today.
Quote: “The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented”, a senior advisor to Egyptian president Morsi, with a statement which is difficult to over-interpret.
Number: $120m, the amount of money needed to authentically preserve the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.