Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Will Israel Trade the Golan Heights for Peace with Syria?

BBC: Israel ready to return Golan Heights to Syria

The Golan Heights is an a mountainous region in north east Israel that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Six Day War from Syria and successfully defended in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. A portion of the land was returned to Syria in later years.

There has long been talk of eventual Israeli return of the land to Syrian control in exchange for peace. Indirect talks mediated by Turkey have picked up pace recently.

Recent events
There have been several recent events that are very interesting.
1. The bombing of Syria’s supposed nuclear reactor
2. North Korean nuclear progress
3. Congressional briefing on possible Syrian-North Korean nuclear ties
4. Syrian military on alert
5. Israeli military on alert
6. The assassination of Imad Mughniyeh

Last September, Israeli jets bombed a building in Syria. The event was completely surrounded in mystery, with many leaks and sources pointing to the conclusion that the building was a nuclear facility. Other facts indicated Syria got this technology from North Korea. A select group of Congressional officials is being briefed on that possibility today, with all leaks saying the answer was yes.

Months later, Imad Mughniyeh, a top ranking Hezbollah official, was assassinated. The likely culprit: Israel. Then, even more recently, both the Israeli and Syrian militaries were put on alert. Some analysts believed Israel was watching for a Hezbollah assassination, and Syria was just being careful. More interestingly, rumors swirled about another Israel-Syria war.

Was this Israel’s attempt at preventing a conflict? Prime Minister Olmert already suffered through one unpopular war in Lebanon in 2006; it’s unlikely he’d survive another war.

Anyway, where does Syria’s nuclear reactor fit in? Well, the timing of the briefing and of Israel’s extension of the olive branch cannot be any coincidence. Syria could be forgiven for its nuclear crime as part of the deal.

What should we do now?
Israeli return of the Golan Heights for peace does not sound like a bad idea for either side. If Israel can juice the thing for everything its worth, I’m sure we could convince Syria to disassociate itself with Iran, or to some degree.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bush Climate Plan Too Little Too Late, No Specifics

President Bush, several months after the Bali climate conference, has announced the United States of America’s new climate policy: he wants our emissions to stop growing by the year 2025. That’s right, he wants them to stop growing. Not to go down, but to stop growing. Make sure you understand that part.

Also note, the president announced little (if any) plans that would actually stop emissions from growing.

Now, there are principally three reasons for this:
1. To pressure China, India and other developing countries to start thinking about climate change
2. To speed up talks on a new international emissions treaty

Also, the initiative builds on the Administration’s new willingness to take a chance with an international treaty.

More needs to be done
This proposal obviously lacks any substance. First of all, only stopping emissions from growing by 2025 is too little, too late. The other problem, of course, is that Bush didn’t actually give any ideas on how to actually reduce emissions.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bad News for Obama Supporters: Polls and Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Fox: Obama won’t demand Joint Chiefs reject ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
CNN: Poll: McCain even with Obama, Clinton

Bad news for Obama supporters. The poll I personally find particularly ominous. The Democratic nomination must end soon: superdelegates must endorse by June 4.

Obama’s new “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy also disgusts me. Homophobia is modern day racism, sexism and anti-Semitism. And also, in an exclusive email conversation with the Obama campaign 9 months ago, I thought he made it pretty clear he would end the practice:

“Senator Obama supports economic, social, and legal rights for gays and lesbians. He supports full civil unions, expanding hate crimes statutes, fighting discrimination at work and in housing and other places of public accommodation, and wants to increase adoption rights. He opposes any Constitutional ban on gay marriage, opposes the Defense of Marriage Act, and opposes the current “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military, which weakens us in a time of global challenges.”

Monday, April 07, 2008

Putin Has Only Isolated Russia Further

Eftychis has an interesting post over at New School Politics on Putin's inability to alter the international system. He has many great points, but there's one in particular I thought was very interesting:

Russia under Putin has in fact moved backwards from the proactive involvement of Yeltsin in the 1990’s. Yeltsin gained Russia G8 membership and even tried to move it closer to NATO, whereas Putin has attempted to juxtapose Russia as a competitor to NATO. Putin’s practices have only increased the isolation of Russia, had he not embarked in seven years of extreme nationalistic policies, it is likely that rising oil prices and globalization would have carried Russia much further than where it is today.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Four Options for the Democratic Nomination and the Best Plan Going Forward

There are essentially four options left for the Democratic nomination. They depend upon three factors: who wins Pennsylvania, who wins Indiana, and whether Florida or Michigan get revotes.

The possibilities

1.Clinton wins Pennsylvania, Indiana and Florida and Michigan get revotes.
Outcome: Clinton wins
2. Clinton wins Pennsylvania, Indiana and Florida and Michigan do NOT get revotes.
Outcome: Clinton will win after a fight
3. Clinton wins Pennsylvania, Obama wins Indiana.
Outcome: Obama will win after a fight
4. Obama wins Pennsylvania, Indiana.
Outcome: The race is over. Obama wins nomination

The best plan moving forward
There is one plan, which DNC chairman Dean has already proposed, which makes perfect sense no matter which way any vote goes: superdelegates must endorse by June 4. This will save time, money, and energy, and could save Democrats the election. The one thing I would add is this: new elections in Florida and Michigan are not necessary. They understood the rules when they voted to move their primaries forward. A revote there would only be costly and would hurt the party.