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« South African Voting Hall of Shame Continues | Main | Reuters Stands Their Ground »

January 25, 2007



Great piece. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is controversial but I have tremendous respect for him. I saw him interviewed on TV when he was in South Africa.

I particularly like his conclusion in the article where he writes ‘… I turn back as my refuge to religion, with its eternal belief that man is created in God's image; that he has no master other than the Creator; that he is born, and inwardly yearns, to be free; that even if he is unaware of that fact today, he will awaken to it tomorrow; and that one day, as the prophet Isaiah promised, the wolf will lie down the lamb.’

‘In times like these we have to remember that there have always been times like these. And it is idealism rather than pragmatism belief in the future rather than reconciliation to the past that has gotten us through the dark times and brought us to the light.’

But then as Steve pointed out I am an idealist.


Oops...meant to use that excerpt as well...


You know I actually miss the days of the Cold War (at least up to the mid 80's), when we knew who was good and who was evil.
We believed in freedom and democracy and knew that totalitarian dictatorships, like Cuba, Red China , Libya, North Korea and Iraq were evil.
WE knew that terrorists who murder innocents were evil.
Now everything has been turned on it's head in these frightening and sombre days of Orwellian moral relativity and political correctness.
Saddam , who killed millions, was the victim , and George W Bush the villain or the 'HItler' for removing Saddam.
Every dictatorship in the world is kosher, and Israel is hysterically demonized for wanting to survive.

Joel Pollak

I'm sorry, I support Bush on Iraq, but Boteach is over-the-top in his crude criticism of Clinton.

There are, certainly, criticisms to be made, but no one in America--almost no one--advocated going into Rwanda, Yugoslavia, etc. The Republicans howled when Clinton acted in the Kosovo affair.

I also disagree with Boteach's pessimistic conclusion that the era of idealism is over. I'm not even sure the Iraq war was fundamentally an idealistic war--though certainly it sought to defend certain ideals.

As for the midterm elections--if Bush had had a stronger Democratic oppositin to contend with all along, perhaps he would have made better choices. I agree that this generation of Democrats is soft on terror, but I believe that Bush is still capable of getting them on board when necessary.

Boteach comes across as a knee-jerk conservative here, and I just don't think his criticism is accurate or even relevant.


What do you think of his criticism that Bush simply didnt go in with enough troops? Is there consensus among the military men that things would have been different with more troops?

I wasnt aware of much when the cold war was taking place but was it really that simple? In Apartheid South Africa the government here would put officers in classrooms and if someone praised communism they could get arrested. There were definitely cases of the side opposing communism being in the (Please correct me if I am wrong, but I did hear that on a show on SABC two nights ago.)


Joel, I agree his criticism of Clinton was disproportional. I am no Clinton fan but do believe he deserves credit for going into Kosovo. You are 100% correct that Republics were far more isolationist then the Clinton administration. The freedom agenda and a liberal foreign policy is certainly a new Republican position.

But I do believe that idealism in American foreign policy is under threat. There is a very real risk that the James Bakers and what Mark Steyn calls the stability fetishists will once again take charge of the Republican Party. On the democratic side, there is also a risk that the anti-war anti-American power lobby could have a greater influence on foreign policy.

Joel do you honestly believe that there is still popular support for a liberal foreign policy among the American people? Do you not think that there has been a definite shift back towards the Monroe doctrine?

Joel Pollak

Oddly enough, I think there is support for a liberal foreign policy. One of the things one hears nowadays in America, from people who oppose the war or want the US to leave Iraq, is that Bush has never asked the American people to sacrifice. They oppose sending 20,000 additional troops--and yet some of them say we should send 250,000. It's strange, but one of the first things Democratic Congressman Charles Rangell did after the Dems won in November was propose the reinstatement of the draft.

So I don't think liberal idealism is dead. I think it has never really been pursued, at least not seriously. I may sound like a communist saying the USSR was never a pure proletarian state, but in this case a lot of people who opposed the policy principle seem to agree with me.


"In Apartheid South Africa the government here would put officers in classrooms and if someone praised communism they could get arrested".
No, defginitely not.
Apartheid was bad, but the ANC and media are exxagerating things, for political gain.


"Sadly, all those conclusions have turned out to be uninformed wishful thinking."

Now had all those leaders and media devoted some time to studying the culture of Islam there might have been some better informed thinking.
But of course publicizing just what is written in the Qur'an, Hadith and Sira is being Islamophobic.

There were incidents on UCT's campus, for example, when the security police would sit in on a lecture; but that was to intimidate the lecturer more than arresting neo-Marxists in the audience.
They must have had thick skins because some of the things said by some of the lecturers about them raised howls of laughter.

The USSR was a slave state. The proletariat had no say whatsoever. Of course Walter Duranty and the NYT will not agree.


Joel, I hope you are right. I agree with the not asking for sacrifice condemnation. As I have said before, I think the West is fighting this war on the cheap. Not once has a Western leader made a Churchill type ‘I have nothing to offer but blood toil tears and sweat’ speech.

I actually saw an interview with Rangell after he made that comment. I didn’t think he was genuine. Thought at the time it was a cheap political trick. Basically he was saying that at present an unfair burden of the war is place on a certain sector of American society and that a draft would ensure that all sacrificed. He basically knew that no one would go along with it and was then able to say look the elites who got us in to this war wont put their kids on the line.

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