Monday, July 15, 2013

Israel pressures Obama on Iran, UK welfare state, Zimmerman trial

1) Israel is pressuring the Obama Administration to act against Iran. Following his September 2012 red line speech at the UN, Netanyahu is upping the ante once again. The Israelis are anxious for the United States to either enact tougher sanctions against the Iranians, or to more directly imply a willingness to use force. I've argued many times why I believe that Netanyahu (especially) and Israel more generally will eventually use force against Iranian nuclear facilities. For me, the key factor is this: from the Israeli perspective, while the risks of such a military operation are manageable, the consequences of inaction are not. And... unlike US caveats, Israeli red lines mean something. Further heightening the probability of Israeli action is the ongoing situation in Syria. By their undaunted support for Assad, the Lebanese Hizballah and Iran are signalling their desire to dominate the strategic evolution of the Middle East. Which leads us to point 2!

2) The Israelis have attacked a suspected Russian arms transport in Syria. Though no Russians appear to have been killed, this is serious news. The Israeli attack illustrates both Israel's overt tactical intent - to deny Assad access to high technology assets and Israel's broader strategic intent - to send a message to the Russian government (and in different ways, Iran/the US). Anyway, I salute the Israelis for their political courage in face of Russian intimidation- we in the US could learn something here.

3) The British Government has taken a small but significant step to reduce the pernicious consequences of the UK's welfare state. By imposing a cap on individual welfare eligibility, the UK may begin to see a gradual reduction in its massive state outlays. However, as a number of Conservative MP's are pointing out, much more can be done. See my thoughts on the welfare state here.

4) The Zimmerman trial has come to an end. As I argued for The Week, the news coverage was unnecessarily incessant and symptomatic of a broader problem in American society. Regardless, I do not believe that Zimmerman's guilt was established beyond all reasonable doubt - the Jury decision was correct. 
            However, I have great sympathy for Trayvon Martin's family- they are honoring their son by their highly dignified reaction to the trial outcome. Many others have reacted less impressively.

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