To Read: The NR's Michael Kinsley examines the notion of consistency in American foreign policy and how it might factor into the Syria decision-
It was President Clinton who freed America, for better or worse, from the chains of logical consistency. The Clinton doctrine (my label, not his) was that it’s OK to be inconsistent. Sometimes you intervene for strictly humanitarian reasons, sometimes you require a self-defense rationale and sometimes you stay out. There is no consistent pattern. The demand for consistency will lead to paralysis. In a way, the Clinton approach replaced the Powell Doctrine, a string of conditions for intervention which, in practice, would lead to the answer: never.
Quote: “He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously”, John Kerry issuing a rhetorical ultimatum to Assad (an ultimatum which seems to be rapidly becoming less rhetorical).
Number: 63, the percentage of Americans who are opposed to airstrkes in Syria, according to Pew (just a week earlier it was 48%).
To Read: Israel takes great pride in helping out people who seek refuge (but only, as Joshua Bloom points out, if they are Jewish)-
Last week, the Israeli Government celebrated the completion of a momentous operation to absorb some of the last remaining Jews of Ethiopia into Israel. On the very same day, it announced another historic campaign to rid the country of non-Jewish asylum seekers who fled atrocities in Sudan and Eritrea, allegedly bartering them to Uganda for arms and agricultural technology.
While Israel has been a country of refuge for Jews fleeing persecution in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere, the government is turning its back on non- Jews seeking refuge from persecution.
Quote: “The US should stop being Israel’s lobbyist”, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi, commenting on John Kerry's appeal to the EU.
Number: 11, Israelis were ranked as the 11th happiest people in the world in the new 'World Happiness report'.
The Middle East
To Read: So, are the rebels 'good guys' or 'bad guys'? Charles Lister takes a look at Syria's rebels and finds quite a complicated picture-
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate on September 4 that "bad guys" and "extremists" make up between 15 and 25 percent of the Syrian insurgency. The reality is far more complicated -- with enormous significance for the prospect of U.S. military action.
First of all, the crucial point: the insurgency simply cannot effectively be divided into two simple, easy to digest, categories of "moderate" and "extremist." While estimates vary considerably, there are currently thought to be as many as 1,000 individual armed groups in Syria, representing approximately 100,000 fighters. A great deal of these groups are small and operate on a particularly localized level, but there are a number of alliances and lines of loose command and control that provide an inkling of clarity (to follow later).
Quote: "Our government will not give up one iota of its absolute rights", Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, standing up for Iran's nuclear program.
Number: 32,000-42,000, the number of 'potential bad guys' which Lister's analysis determines there are in Syria (once more, though, the picture is complicated).
The Jewish World
To Read: Rabbi Marc D. Angel discusses the discrepancy between the ideal of Jewish orthodoxy and the way it is practiced-
Instead of presenting Orthodoxy as a monochromatic way of life, we would be more truthful and more effective if we were to highlight the roominess of Orthodoxy. It is not a straightjacket, but a repository of spirituality and wisdom in which every yearning soul can find a place. We should encourage ourselves and others to learn about and be open to the variety of religious experience within Torah Judaism.
Quote: "American Jews do not have the dichotomy of religious or secular, and there is place to be a Jew, and it was a great novelty to me. In Israel, you have the luxury to say I am an Israeli, without dealing with Jewish identity. In general, this topic has become so loaded politically and culturally, that people just do not want anything to do with it”, Uri Leventer-Roberts, the new director of UJA– Federation of New York in Israel, in an interesting interview with ynet.
Number: $6b, the price paid for the Neiman Marcus department store chain.