Tuesday’s Talk

US Continues To Misunderstand Dynamics In Gulf Region, Says Analyst
Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies examines the differences between the perspectives and values of the West and the Middle East on what is driving the divisions in the region.

He writes that the West continues to misunderstand “the extent to which this is a time when both Iran and Arab regimes face a growing struggle for the future of Islam,” which is as much a struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites as it is between all of the region’s regimes and violent Islamist extremists.

“This is a struggle where the data issued by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center and other efforts to track the patterns in terrorism indicate almost all of the attacks and casualties are caused by Muslims attacking Muslims, and much of the violence is caused by Sunnis attacking Sunnis. The West is only on the periphery of this struggle, not its focus. It is a “clash within a civilization,” and not a clash between them.

“These are Gulf and Arab perspectives that the United States and Europe cannot afford to ignore. They affect divisions and threats that are all too real in a region where some 20% of all world oil exports, and 35% of all oil shipped by sea, move through the Strait of Hormuz, along with substantial amounts of gas. ,” Cordesman cautions.

Corruption Rampant In All European Union Countries
A new report by the European Commission has revealed widespread corruption that is costing the European Union economy at least 120 billion euros annually. but probably could be higher.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told the German newspaper Deutsche Welle that the report offers “a frank assessment on how each member state tackles corruption, how existing laws and policies work in practice, and we suggest also how each member state can step up their work against corruption.”

Of those surveyed, between six to 29 per cent of people in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece said they had been expected to pay a bribe and those working in companies in Greece, Spain and Italy believe corruption is widespread. Conversely, corruption was rare in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, the report found.

US Unlikely To Cut Ties With Egypt, Nor Embrace Its Old Ally
Michelle Dunne, a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations,  discussed the current situation in Egypt and the dilemma the US faces in managing its relationship during a recent interview. Given the recent history of US missteps in handling the revolution, how should the US proceed?

“I don’t expect the United States to cut ties with Egypt. They’ve been in very close contact. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel seems to converse with General Sisi frequently. So there is no desire to cut Egypt off. The question is: How do you send a message that we want to cooperate with you but we are very concerned about the course you’re pursuing? There’s reason to be concerned that if we just give all the aid and other benefits we’ve given for years, the message is that everything’s great; we approve of the decisions that you’re taking. That’s not the message that the United States wants to send. I’m not expecting the United States to cut Egypt off altogether, and I’m also not expecting the United States to warmly welcome the developments in Egypt that we’re likely to see in the coming months,” Dunne says.

The Dark Roots Of The War On The One Percent
Ruth Wisse writes in The Wall Street Journal that the war on the one percent may ease the consciences of those stoking class envy, but there is an inherent danger in the effort.

She says that the recent comparison made by business mogul Tony Perkins between Germany’s war against Jews and the current war on the rich is misguided and wrong, but wonders whether the politics at work in the two situations are similar.

Wisse argues that stoking class envy “is a step in a familiar, dangerous and highly incendiary process” which cannot lead to anyone’s benefit.

“Any ideology or movement, right or left, that is organized negatively—against rather than for—enjoys an inherent advantage in politics, mobilizing unappeasable energies that never have to default on their announced goal of cleansing the body politic of its alleged poisons,” she continues.

“Herein lies one structural connection between a politics of blame directed specifically at Jews and a politics of grievance directed against “the rich.” The ranks of those harping on “unfairly” high earners include figures in American political life at all levels who have been entrusted with the care of our open society; in channeling blame for today’s deep-rooted and seemingly intractable problems toward the beneficiaries of that society’s competitive freedoms, they are playing with fire.

“I say this not only, and not even primarily, because some of those beneficiaries happen also to be Jews. So far, mainstream American politicians and supporters of movements like Occupy Wall Street have confined their attacks to the nameless “one percent,” and in any case it is doubtful that today any U.S. politician would be electable on an explicitly anti-Jewish platform,” says Wisse making clear that Perkins’ comparison is misplaced.


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