March 22, 2019

Golan Heights

On Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” Twitter

The move “gives Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political boost a month before what is expected to be a close election [in Israel].” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left worries that the move sets a dangerous precedent by legitimizing Israel’s seizure of land through military force.

“As a practical matter, Mr. Trump’s announcement changes little. There is no negotiation underway on the status of the Golan Heights, nor any expectation that Israel is going to withdraw from it…  But as a symbolic step, the decision is momentous

“Unlike the president’s earlier decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which was mandated by Congress and fulfilled a promise he made during the 2016 presidential campaign — one made by previous presidential candidates — this latest move was both a first for an American president and almost purely a gesture to Mr. Netanyahu.”
Mark Landler and Edward Wong, New York Times

“Trump is not the first president to try to tip the scales in an Israeli election. Bill Clinton admitted that he worked, unsuccessfully, to try to boost Shimon Peres when he was running against Netanyahu in 1996.  But it’s still rare to see two leaders so in lockstep. Netanyahu will need all the help he can get, as he needs to not only win reelection, but win it big. He wants to pass a ‘French Law,’ which would shield the prime minister from prosecution while in office… If the law doesn’t pass, Israel’s attorney general is expected to indict Netanyahu on corruption charges.”
Joshua Keating, Slate

“There are two main — but connected — reasons why no other American leader made the decision Trump just did. First, by formally recognizing Israeli control over the Golan Heights — territory it took from Syria decades ago — Trump has effectively endorsed forcibly taking land from other countries. That might embolden world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin to refer back to this moment when he defends his nation’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine… Second, Trump’s move undermines standing international laws [barring the seizure of land through military force].”
Alex Ward, Vox

“Confirming Israel’s seizure of this territory would render any territory in the world subject to conquest and annexation… Given the chaos in Syria, no one would ask Israel to make a territorial concession on the Golan Heights now. But that’s hardly a justification for a decades-old land grab. Like recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, confirming Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights is a solution in search of a problem. It would come at a steep cost and achieve nothing.”
Hussein Ibish, Bloomberg

“Beijing is [also] looking to a seemingly unlikely place for support: Europe. In recent days, Chinese ambassadors across the continent have gone on the offensive to rally Europe behind Hong Kong’s government and against the protestors. As part of their campaign to promote Beijing’s line, China’s ambassadors are publishing op-eds in local papers and publicly criticizing European leaders for failing to denounce what they are trying to frame as violent protests…

“While Washington has been antagonistic, Beijing has been careful to strike all the right chords… [But] to uphold their shared values, both the United States and Europe need to collectively push back against China’s unfair trade and investment practices, its blatant human rights abuses, and the anti-democratic norms and practices it seeks to spread… Europe must realize where its long-term interests lie, and not let [the Trump] administration or the allure of economic gains prevent the right choice. The health of liberal democracy will depend on it.”
Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Rachel Rizzo, Politico

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right applauds the move, arguing that control of the Golan is necessary for Israeli security.

From the Right

The right applauds the move, arguing that control of the Golan is necessary for Israeli security.

“Trump effectively formalizes something that everyone already knew. Namely, that the Golan Heights, which Israel seized following a 1967 Syrian-Egyptian-Jordanian effort to annihilate it, were unlikely to be Syrian again for a very long time. If you lament that, you have one person to blame: Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.…

“Assad allowed Iran to turn southwestern Syria into one big missile launchpad… The Iranian regime is ideologically invested in Israel's annihilation and increasingly predisposed to take risks to that end. Although Israel can mitigate that threat by using force, Israeli loss of the Golan would effectively give Iran an elevated position from which to fire deep into Israel… if Assad had wanted to get the Golan Heights back, he should have thought more carefully about allowing Israel's mortal enemy to use Syria as a playground.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“The highly mountainous Golan Heights region, which borders war-torn Syria, is militarily strategic for Israel — allowing it to fall back into Arab hands would allow foreign armies to easily target large swaths of central Israel's population centers.”
Josh Hammer, Daily Wire

“Recognizing the Golan is principled in its support for an ally and realistic in recognizing the Middle East as it is… If Israel didn’t control the Golan, the heights might now be dominated by Hezbollah or perhaps Islamic State. Either reality is unacceptable to Israel…

“Recognizing the Golan sends a message to Russia, Syria’s patron, that the U.S. recognizes that the civil war has changed Syrian reality. There is no returning to a nonexistent status quo ante. It also tells the Palestinians that a return to pre-1967 borders is no longer realistic. They will have to allow some Israeli security presence in what they call the ‘occupied territories’ if they want a two-state solution in Palestine.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Critics, however, posit that “Israel has no legitimate claim to this territory, and in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over land that it seized during a war the U.S. is sending a potentially very dangerous message to governments all around the world… No U.S. interests are advanced by doing this, and it discredits any criticisms that the U.S. wants to make of any other government’s illegal occupation and annexation of territory.”
Daniel Larison, The American Conservative

Regarding the decision to label China a currency manipulator, “traders may fear the tiny devaluation signals trade conflict spreading to currency. [But] this is highly unlikely, because a steep devaluation would be destabilizing for China… If an extended depreciation is encouraged or permitted, RMB holders can only guess what level the government truly wants. Last time around — four years ago — they chose large-scale capital flight rather than trusting the People’s Bank. China’s economy is slower, older, and more indebted than back then. Most importantly, it no longer has the foreign exchange to afford a repeat of 2015–6. That’s why the People’s Bank is likely to continue to defend the RMB near 7 to the dollar.”
Derek M. Scissors, The National Interest

“Trump should be overjoyed. Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans on the things Americans buy. The only way China can be paying any of them is if something else, something extra, then happens — like the yuan dropping. This makes all imports into China more expensive for Chinese citizens. That's China paying for Trump's tariffs when the yuan falls. Without this happening, only Americans pay. With the yuan dropping, China pays as well. This is the claim Trump has been making all along, that China's really paying those trade taxes — now they are… Imposing significant export tariffs on a country should mean the value of that currency falls. This is what is happening. Why is Trump complaining about it?
Tim Worstall, Washington Examiner

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

Outside Hong Kong, the silence Is deafening… Some protesters in Hong Kong today are adopting the British Union Jack flag, the American flag and the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ as symbols, yet that doesn’t seem to have stirred our collective imaginations… Americans are preoccupied with fighting each other over political correctness, gun violence, Trump and the Democratic candidates for president. To be sure, those issues deserve plenty of attention. But they are soaking up far too much emotional energy, distracting attention from the all-important struggles for liberty around the world…

“It’s 2019, and the land of the American Revolution, a country whose presidents gave stirring speeches about liberty and freedom in Berlin during the Cold War, remains in a complacent slumber. It really is time to Make America Great Again — if only we could remember what that means.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

On the bright side...

'Ghost' rearranging 72-year-old man's shed turns out to be orderly mouse.
NBC4i

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.