You Stink–Lebanon’s garbage/government crisis

Garbage has been piling up in Beirut for six weeks, turning one of the region’s most beautiful cities into

Beirut garbage pile, one of many

Beirut garbage pile, one of many

a dangerous health hazard. It’s a concrete sign of Lebanon’s dysfunctional government, as the decades-old power-sharing between Christians and Muslims falls apart. The popular protest movement spawned by the mess is called “You Stink!”  I talked about the crisis with host PJ Maloney on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh a few minutes ago.

Supermarkets for America’s poor–finally

25 million Americans have no access to a supermarket, and no access to fresh fruit and vegetables. food oasisThat’s the most shocking fact in this PBS report–which shows that it can be turned around. Here’s a chain that specializes in building and running supermarkets in poor areas where they “can’t” make a profit. Listen to the CEO say it’s not enough just to want to do good–you have to know how. That’s for the geniuses who spent their charity money getting feel-good white and black teams together to plant trees in the Sandtown district of Baltimore, where the riots erupted this year. Trees? Really?? That’s what they need? Watch this video. This is what they need.

Iran leaps back into diplomacy with Syria plan

Iran is proposing a peace plan for Syria. What I’ve uncovered about the plan doesn’t add up to

Fractured Syria

Fractured Syria

much–but it shows that with the ink on the agreement over its nuclear program still damp, Iran is ready to jump back into regional diplomacy. It remains to be seen whether Iran will shift its attention to diplomacy and away from terrorism. I talked about this with PJ Maloney today on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh.

No surprise–US training of Syrian rebels is a failure

The failure of the US effort to train Syrian rebels is no surprise to me, at least–there’s a chapter in my book, Broken Spring, about the folly of the US backing Syrian rebels. I wrote that part in 2012. Now my friend Nancy Youssef has chapter and verse in this article about how half a billion dollars in US tax money has gone down the tubes in a vain effort to position an effective Syrian rebel force opposite ISIS.

The Pentagon’s next step, she writes, is to try helping out the Syrian Kurdish forces.

That has a better chance of success, because the Kurds are already motivated to fight ISIS. The

Kurdish regions

Kurdish regions

problem here is, as you can see on the map–Syrian Kurds are only a small part of the Kurdish presence in the Middle East. If you want them to be effective, you have to help them unite–and that means butting heads with Turkey, considered a US ally, which has been fighting Kurdish PKK separatists for decades.

So it’s another no-win situation for Washington, which really should be getting used to this by now. All US interventions in the Mideast over the past decade have failed. Unfortunately, the current US government is hamstrung by fear that it might look bad, so admitting defeat or failure is worse than correcting the problem, in its eyes.

That’s no way to run the free world.

Egypt gets it done–a new Suez Canal: Mark on the radio

The West, especially the US, doesn’t like Egypt’s military-led government, but it’s getting things done.

Egyptian president el-Sisi

Egyptian president el-Sisi

After tackling fuel and food subsidies, the most serious drain on the budget, it got a new channel for the Suez Canal; built in a third of the time Egypt’s own engineers said it would take. And the main point–Egypt’s people are behind the dictator, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. I talked about the Suez project a few minutes ago with host PJ Maloney on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh.

Israeli think tank demolishes opposition to Iran deal

Israel’s most respected think tank takes apart the opposition to the Iran deal point by point in this thoughtful analysis. This isn’t a bunch of crazies from ivory towerland. This is The Institute for National

Netanyahu at the UN

Netanyahu at the UN

Security Studies at Tel Aviv Universitiy, which includes ex-generals and top academics.

This article is notable not only for its content, but also for the fact that it shows that many serious Israelis reject the extreme policy of their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, against the deal, and his bold insertion of Israel into partisan American politics in a vain effort to defeat the Iran deal negotiated by the US administration and other world powers. I wonder what happens the day after the deal is approved, with or without overriding a veto–where does that leave Israel, American Jews and the “special relationship”? Troubling…

This think tank, INSS, is my go-to place for experts–has been for decades, going back to when it was the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. In past years they’d put out an annual Strategic Assessment, which included comprehensive details of regional military forces. The yearly news conference, where they passed out the book, was always well attended–attesting to the prestige and reliability of the institute. So this article is worth reading–it’s free of polemics and high on analysis, as is standard in its publications.

Kerry misses the point in Egypt visit

Playing the human rights card is exactly the wrong strategy in Egypt these days, but Secretary of State

No tourists, no income

No tourists, no income

John Kerry just can’t help it. He’s saying the Egyptians can’t win their fight against terrorism unless they respect human rights. Actually, the two have nothing to do with each other, and Egyptians as a whole aren’t interested in human rights now–they want food on their tables and tourists at the pyramids. Here’s my analysis a few minutes ago on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh, talking to host PJ Maloney about Kerry’s talks in Egypt and with Gulf Arab leaders about the Iran deal.