Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Article from Michael Freund

Recalling the hassidic rebbe who pioneered aliya

April 26, 2017  •  Jerusalem Post

Today, the first day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, marks the anniversary of the passing of one of the unsung heroes of the Jewish people's return to the Land of Israel in the modern era.

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Latest Article from Clifford May

Why Boeing and Airbus deals with Iran shouldn't fly

April 26, 2017  •  The Washington Times

Sometimes international law is ambiguous. Sometimes not. When it comes to murdering civilians and using chemical weapons to get the job done, there are no gray areas, no fuzzy lines, no mitigating circumstances. Such practices are clearly and specifically prohibited under what's called "the law of war." That makes Bashar Assad, Syria's dynastic dictator, a war criminal. And it makes Iran his chief accomplice.

As far back as 2005, Jane's Defense Weekly reported that Iran's rulers were actively helping Mr. Assad launch an "innovative chemical warfare program" — providing technology to build equipment that would produce "hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin nerve agents and mustard blister agent."

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Latest Article from Soeren Kern

France: A Guide to the Presidential Elections

April 22, 2017  •  Gatestone Institute

Voters in France will go to the polls on April 23 to choose the country's next president in a two-step process. The top two winners in the first round will compete in a run-off on May 7.

The election is being closely followed in France and elsewhere as an indicator of popular discontent with mainstream parties and the European Union, as well as with multiculturalism and continued mass migration from the Muslim world.

If the election were held today, independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, who has never held elected office, would become the next president of France, according to most opinion polls.

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Latest Article from Judith Miller

Vigilance, Not Complacency

April 21, 2017  •  City Journal

The warnings from two senior counterterrorism officials this week could not have been starker, though they differed dramatically in tone and style. Americans have grown unduly complacent about the threat of Islamic terrorism, the officials said. We ignore it at our peril.

Director of Homeland Security John Kelly, a retired Marine general, was extraordinarily blunt Tuesday in a speech at George Washington University. "Make no mistake," he said. "We are, in fact, a nation under attack." Despite all that Washington has spent and done to protect Americans, the U.S. now faced "the highest terror threat level in years."

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Latest Article from Jonathan Schanzer

Time for the US to Stop Qatar's Support for Terror

April 21, 2017  •  New York Post

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is on a Mideast tour to "continue efforts to strengthen regional security architectures." While his meetings in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel are likely to attract most of the press coverage, his discussions in Qatar Saturday could be the most consequential.

Since August 2014, US-backed coalition aircraft have flown tens of thousands of sorties to bomb ISIS. Almost all of them are commanded out of the sprawling, high-tech al-Udeid air base in Qatar. In other words, the base is crucial to our war efforts.

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Latest Article from Tevi Troy

Presidents and Public-Health Crises

Spring 2017  •  National Affairs

Over the course of the 20th century, the United States faced three major public-health crises: the polio epidemic, excessively high smoking rates, and HIV/AIDS. Each of these crises took place over a multi-year period, and multiple presidents dealt with both their effects and the national response to them. Nonetheless, certain presidents came to be specifically identified with each of these crises: Franklin Roosevelt and polio, John F. Kennedy and smoking, and Ronald Reagan and HIV/AIDS.

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Latest Article from Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Myths, militias, and the future of Syria

April 12, 2017  •  Aswaat (King's College London)

As the Syrian civil war enters its seventh year, it is increasingly clear that analysts will have to pay greater attention to the internal dynamics of the Bashar al-Assad regime, which now has a clear edge over the Syrian opposition following the conquest of Aleppo in December 2016.

That advantage is certain to be consolidated as the remaining insurgent strongholds in the wider Damascus area, most notably East Ghouta, are cleared out, having been weakened significantly by infighting and siege warfare.

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Latest Article from Ilan Berman

Terrorism In Russia
Why The Problem Is Set To Worsen

April 6, 2017  •  Foreign Affairs

On Monday, the subway system of St. Petersburg, Russia's second city, was the site of a massive bomb blast that killed 14 commuters and wounded more than 50 others. (A second, unexploded device was subsequently found and defused by authorities.) The attack marked the most significant terrorist incident to hit the Russian Federation since December of 2013, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the main train station of the southern Russian city of Volgograd ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in nearby Sochi. But it is also much more. Monday's bombing is the latest sign of Russia's worsening terrorism problem, as well as a portent of things to come.

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Latest Article from Asaf Romirowsky

The Fight for Zion

April 4, 2017  •  Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

For American Jews, Zionism has become a source of debate, controversy, embarrassment, and guilt as they try to come to terms with the activities of the Jewish state and its elected officials. Consequently, many seek to detach themselves from what used to embody the core of Jewish identity. A case in point is Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a pro-BDS Jewish group that uses its "Jewishness" to validate its cause.

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Latest Article from Jeff Stier

Who's Getting Money from NIH?
A pair of foreign research organizations have gotten numerous grants for work of unclear value

April 3, 2017  •  National Review

As  Democrats and the scientific establishment howl over President Trump's proposed budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Congress is investigating whether that agency misspent U.S. tax dollars to fund two European cancer institutions now under scrutiny for conflicts of interest and dubious science. Key lawmakers are also trying to understand the nature of the cozy relationship between federal bureaucrats with budgets and foreign researchers who are eager to accept grants to promote a political agenda at taxpayers' expense.

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Latest Article from Thomas Hibbs

review of T2: Trainspotting

April 1, 2017  •  National Review Online

In one of the many reunion scenes in T2: Trainspotting, the sequel to the 1996 indie hit film Trainspotting, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) tells his old friend Simon, a.k.a. Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), that after a heart attack, he had a stent inserted that will ensure that he lives 30 more years. He then laments his longevity. He would know what to do with two or three years, but he has no idea what to do with 30. "I'm 46 years old," he moans, "and I'm f****d!" As with all the major characters in the Trainspotting universe, Renton's experience is framed by the emptiness of time in a world where meaning has been reduced to arbitrary consumer choice, a world in which, as Renton boldly proclaimed in his famous "choose life" speech in the original, it makes as much sense to be on heroin as not to.

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Latest Article from Matthew RJ Brodsky

Can Trump Refrain from Repeating His Predecessor's Mistakes in Syria?

March 18, 2017  •  The National Interest

Having reached the six-year anniversary of the Syrian civil war, the death toll is now counted by the hundreds of thousands with a refugee crisis tallied in the millions. When it comes to the Middle East, newly elected American presidents have a tendency to veer toward overcorrection. The Middle East, however, is never shy about presenting its own lessons, regardless of presidential intentions. For a president who eschewed force for finesse with his own form of overcorrection, it turned out that Barack Obama was clearly overmatched and subsequently outplayed by both Russia and Iran. Now, in the early months of his presidency, Donald Trump finds himself at a fork in the road in terms of foreign policy. When it comes to Syria, there are no good choices available today. It's about finding the best bad option. The United States is in need of a Goldilocks policy—solutions in between the way too hot and way too cold spectrum. Can Team Trump learn the proper lessons from history and from America's successes and failures abroad?

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