Around the Internets

Better late than never — help yourself to a heaping helping of healthy links (after the jump):

But it’s the thought that counts (amirite?): William Tucker on the practical limits of pan-Arab support for Gaza:

In this time it is important to remember that the Arab people are not politically united. As we have discussed here before, political borders only divide people on a map. The Arab people are spread over a large geographical area and are forced to accept and abide by local realities despite their ethno-linguistic ties. In other words, overcoming distance is more of a challenge than stepping over a political border. Their governments, of course, are no different. Despite the rhetoric emanating from many Arab states there is little they can do beside offer moral support for Hamas and the question of intervening militarily is simply beyond the capabilities of most. Consider the violence in Syria and Iraq, or perhaps the dire economic situations in Egypt or Jordan and see that these issues are solely among Arab peoples and some minorities, and yet, there was little done by the so-called Arab world to rectify these issues. In essence, these problems are left to local governance and leave little bandwidth for foreign adventures of the affected nation-state – no matter how unifying the political cause may be.

…and a pony (What? Somebody had to say it): If Obama is truly committed to Israel he should help broker peace with Palestinians, says Matt Duss:

While it’s obviously altogether a great thing to prevent rockets from raining down on Israeli towns and homes, technological marvels such as Iron Dome should not obscure the fact that real, long-term security for Israelis means obtaining real security for Palestinians, too, through a two-state accord in which both peoples’ national rights are recognized, and in which the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is ended, completely.

This is where President Obama has, once again, an opportunity to show his support for the security of Israel, and for Palestinians, by beginning another push for a two-state solution. I don’t have any illusions about how difficult this will be, given that the regional table isn’t exactly set for peace-making t this moment. Even in better circumstances, this conflict has an amazing ability to frustrate leaders who attempt to grapple with it, and there’s a strong temptation, encouraged by very vocal pro status-quo factions in both Israel and the United States, to believe that the conflict can only be managed, not solved, and that that attempting to forge peace is naive. But what is truly naive is imagining that this status quo can continue.

No end but…er… Robert Wright tries to divine a possible conclusion  to Israel’s blockade of Gaza — and comes up empty (h/t TAFKA Hilzoy, via FB):

“If you mention the blockade to the average reasonably well-informed American or Israeli, you’ll likely get a reply such as: Well, if the Gazans don’t like economic strangulation, Hamas should quit firing missiles at Israel; or Hamas should recognize the state of Israel; or Hamas should do something else Israel wants it to do.

So, over the past couple of days, I tried to find out exactly what actions on the part of Hamas would suffice to end the blockade. And, after contacting various experts by email, I discovered that the answer is: nothing would suffice. At least, nothing we know of. Apparently Israel hasn’t articulated clear conditions under which the blockade would end.”

Hey, speaking of ill-defined endgames… Spattackerman reports on Leon Panetta and the long (drone) war:

There once was a time, just last year, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta thought the U.S. was thisclose to wiping al-Qaida off the face of the earth, once and for all. That appears to have gone up in the flames of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Now, a more dour Panetta believes that it’s not enough to continue the drone strikes and commando raids in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; they’ve got to expand “outside declared combat zones” to places like Nigeria, Mali and even Libya.

That was Panetta’s message at Tuesday evening address to the Center for American Security, an influential Washington defense think tank. Panetta, a former director of the CIA, gave a strong defense of counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids, calling them “the most precise campaign in the history of warfare,” and indicated strongly that they’re only going to intensify in the coming years.

“This campaign against al Qaeda will largely take place outside declared combat zones,” Panetta said in his prepared remarks, “using a small-footprint approach that includes precision operations, partnered activities with foreign Special Operations Forces, and capacity building so that partner countries can be more effective in combating terrorism on their own.” He referenced “expanding our fleet of Predator and Reaper” drones and beefing up Special Operations Forces by another 8,000 commandos in the next five years. Even if combat is ending for most conventional units, those forces — already frequently deployed — aren’t in for any respite.

Like a waving flag: Don’t kid yourselves — the GOP will, as always, shift with the political winds, says Gary Younge:

The path that the Republican party has taken over the last 40 years owes nothing to political principle and everything to electoral strategy. Its pandering to the religious right, like its courting of the white vote, was not the ineluctable outcome of an over-arching political philosophy but the product of crude majoritarian calculations crafted to win elections.

That’s why reports of the party’s imminent death due to demographic changeshave been greatly exaggerated. Since its defeat this month, it’s been suggested the increase in the proportion of non-white voters (particularly Latinos), growing secularisation and cultural tolerance present an existential challenge that can only be met by a fundamental reassessment of the party’s core values. Not so.

The Republican party primarily exists to represent the interests of business elites in the political sphere and redistribute power and resources to the wealthy. Its enduring values beyond that end have always been up for grabs. It has been anti-slavery and anti-Catholic, interventionist and isolationist. Its most recent devotion to xenophobia, nativism, Christian fundamentalism and racism is the means by which it has cohered a coalition to win elections. Issues of gay marriage and abortion may be genuinely important to much of its base, and prejudice may guide some of its supporters. But while they have been central to the party’s message, they are not essential to its meaning.

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