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Week in Review

Last week, Lara Jakes reported for the AP that President Obama’s reluctance to intervene in Syria is because he wants to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. We’re reluctant to jump to conclusions based on this one press report, aware that we might not be seeing the full story. But it is cause for concern:

There are plenty of good reasons to fight shy of involvement in Syria; trying to get on Iran’s good side by letting Assad murder his people with impunity isn’t one of them. It’s a grotesquely immoral sacrifice of the innocent on the altar of a terrible policy idea. Trying to please the mullahs by giving them their way in Syria would be like trying to quiet Adolf Hitler by giving him the Sudetenland. It would be appeasement, and it would be as dishonorable as it is futile.

Here’s the problem: the calculation the mullahs are making is whether or not, when President Obama tells them that there will be war if they don’t give up on their nuke plans, he really Means It. If they think he’s bluffing, if they think he is either unable or unwilling to compel them to comply, there is no reason on earth for them to give way. The mullahs don’t like President Obama, they don’t trust him, and they want to break his power and his policy in the Middle East. […]

If this hopefully-misguided AP dispatch is right, and President Obama really is letting the mullahs use their nuclear program as leverage to convince the US to stay out of Syria, the administration is inadvertently but inescapably sending two unmistakable messages to Tehran. First, that the US is desperate, very desperate, to avoid a war with Iran and will clutch at just about any straw to get out of the hole it’s dug for itself. Second, even the threat of Iran developing a nuclear bomb is enough to get the US to humiliatingly climb down the ladder and allow a blood-smeared dictatorship that the President has repeatedly said “must” go, to stay. […]

Letting someone have the Sudetenland almost never works; as Churchill said, Britain and France had to choose between dishonor and war in the 1938 Czech crisis. They chose dishonor, he said, and will get war.

Meanwhile, North Korea continued bellicose rhetoric and posturing this week, and announced a restart of a defunct nuclear reactor. This is more of the same from the Norks, and not necessarily cause for much concern; what does have us worried is South Korea’s vow to shoot first and ask questions later on the Korean peninsula. In China, one criticizes Norks at one’s own peril. And a war-weary American public would be willing to go to war with North Korea.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan jumped into the Game of Thrones with the unveiling of two new patrol ships, while China continued to struggle with an environment ravaged by unchecked growth—28,000 rivers have “disappeared” there over the past few decades. In India, possible PM candidate Rahul Gandhi failed to impress at a gathering of Indian business tycoons.

Spain was Europe’s latest country to miss—by a lot—EU budget deficit targets. But 75% of Germans think the worst is yet to come in the ongoing euro crisis. Greece’s radical neo-Nazi party looks to go international. Amidst all these worrisome reports, a miracle occurred: the Pope won over the NYT.

America is poaching European industry with cheap shale gas. And while Europe continues to snub shale, it’s burning wood—a dubious “renewable” energy source—to meet 2020 green targets. The US stands in stark contrast, as it prepares to lose its position as the world’s biggest importer of crude oil to China next year. And as the fracking industry grows and big companies like Exxon and Shell move in, drilling is getting safer.

But technology isn’t just a boon to America’s energy future. New software is going beyond Scantrons by grading student essays automatically. Healthcare is being disrupted as well, as a new gene therapy has been found to cure leukemia in just eight days. Government is also looking to leverage new tech; Los Angeles released an app that will let citizens communicate directly with city officials. And the reasons for businesses and employees to take advantage of telework continued to pile up: We learned that telework can help boost small business revenue and increase volunteerism.

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  • Earlg

    Re: Syria & Iran

    Yesterday the Boston Globe ran the story “Should America let Syria fight on?” wherein, “…voices in the Western foreign policy world are quietly starting to
    acknowledge that a long, drawn-out conflict in Syria doesn’t threaten American interests; to put it coldly, it might even serve them”, and that, “…the best solution to Syria’s problems, as far as US interests go, might be no solution
    at all.”

    Given the informational aspects of a protracted
    popular war, I suspect Obama’s going to be pressed to fish or cut bait.

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