UNESCO’s executive board, which includes the US, France, the UK and other Western democracies, unanimously elected Syria to a pair of committees – one dealing directly with human rights issues – even as the Bashar al-Assad regime maintains its campaign of violence against its own citizens.
The Arab group at UNESCO nominated Syria for the spots, and though the 58-member board approved the pick by consensus on Nov. 11, the agency has not yet posted the results on its website.
Syria’s election came just a day before the League of Arab States moved to suspend Syrian membership of that body.
“The Arab League’s suspension of Syria is stripped of any meaning when its member states elevate Syria to UN human rights committes,” says Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch.
by Roger Kimball:
How many people still remember The Opium of the Intellectuals, the French philosopher Raymond Aron’s masterpiece? First published in France in 1955, at the height of the Cold War, L’Opium des intellectuels was an immediate sensation. It caused something of a sensation in the United States, too, when an English translation was published in 1957. Writing in The New York Times, the historian Crane Brinton spoke for many when he said that the book was “a kind of running commentary on the Western world today.”
Unaccountably the book was been out of print for many years. It was therefore welcome news indeed that Transaction Publishers brought out a new edition of Opium in 2001. The deformations that Aron analyzed are still very much with us, even if the figures that represent them have changed.
Aron’s subject is the bewitchment — the moral and intellectual disordering — that comes with adherence to certain ideologies. Why is it, he wondered, that certain intellectuals are “merciless toward the failings of the democracies but ready to tolerate the worst crimes as long as they are committed in the name of the proper doctrines”?
By Richard W. Rahn:
The major world governments are in the process of destroying the value of the money their citizens hold. On Nov. 16, the Cato Institute held its annual monetary conference. Speakers included high-ranking officials from the Federal Reserve and monetary experts from the academy, think thanks and financial institutions. There was unanimous agreement that the world monetary system is in deep trouble, which is obvious to anyone who keeps up with the news. It is easier to observe the problem than to come up with a solution.
by Bruce Thornton:
The failure of the Congressional budget “super-committee” to address our geometrically expanding debt and deficits should surprise no one. From the beginning the committee was political theater designed to create the illusion of action when the will to act is missing. Unfortunately, this perennial bad habit of democracies to pursue short-time interests at the expense of long-term needs is now too dangerous to indulge.
The glory of constitutional government is its replacement of violence or coercion with speech and persuasion. But going back to ancient Athens, the primacy of verbal persuasion and processes makes it possible to substitute procedural words for actions when the courage or will to act is missing. The creation of committees, conferences, symposia, commissions of inquiry, and the like provides politicians with a ready answer to the citizens’ frustrated cry, “Why isn’t something being done?” Since few in government want to anger the voters by calling for the sacrifices and hard choices needed to put our fiscal house in order, creating a committee buys time and creates the illusion that “something is being done.” And we know where the reluctance to do anything comes from––making the hard choices necessary to deal with the impending fiscal apocalypse is attended by political costs that will have to be paid come the next election. Better to delay decisions until after November 2012, when the political stars will be better aligned one way or the other.
by Herbert I. London:
For a variety of reasons, including a misguided infatuation with soft power, neither the United States nor Israel has exercised the legitimate right of anticipatory, or pre-emptive, self defense against Iran. As a result, Iran’s entry into the nuclear club is almost a given. In Israel, a nation already targeted for annihilation; self defense is limited to contingency plans, active defense and deterrence. However, neither is perfect.
The Forward has a must-read article on pervasive anti-Semitism in the new Libya that reveals both the Arab world’s greatest problem – which isn’t anti-Semitism per se – and why the West persistently ignores it. Inter alia, reporter Andrew Engel describes how Libyan after Libyan volunteered the “information,” completely unprompted, that the hated Muammar Qaddafi was a Jew. The same theme permeated a CD he heard in a Tripoli taxi – but only in Arabic:
Barbara Kay, National Post:
The Copts are like the Jews in their numbers and their history of precarious sojourn in Islamic lands, but they are unlike the Jews in having no particular affinity with the West, and of course no homeland of their own. But the Jews do have a homeland; and they have been sympathetic to refugees from other lands before (including subSaharan Africans); and they should feel a natural sympathy for the Copts.
Tel Aviv is no match for Alexandria in beauty, grandeur or fabled cultural history. But it is close by; the climate and landscape are familiar; many languages are spoken there, Arabic amongst them; and tolerance for other religions and lifestyles abounds.
I’m still ill but I’ll try to put up a few posts today.