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Jonathan Power: Palestine and the War of Civilizations

Just what Barack Obama needs as he prepares to be the forty-fourth president of the United States: another Israeli/Palestinian war re-inflaming passions all over the Arab and Muslim world. Will that middle name of his count for something in this intense firefight?

Well, possibly—but only if he moves fast to change the long-time American emphasis on supporting, by both word and deed, the Israeli side at the Palestinian’s expense. It is as simple—and as complicated—as that. After the Bush years, during which the “clash of civilizations” became the de facto interpretation of American, and to some extent European, policy in the region, the West quickly needs to de-escalate its fixation with what it often interprets as the rabid policies of the Islamic world. The focus instead should be on restoring a sense of humility in dealing with the world-wide Muslim civilization, albeit one with its share of bad apples.

Comparison, even in the time of Al Qaeda, does not work in Christendom's favor. The West should not overlook its near-takeover by the Nazis, whose attempt to eliminate the Jews was launched from a country that was in many ways the fulcrum of modern Christianity. It would be a mistake to forget the inroads that atheistic Marxism made in Europe; or the everyday crime rates in Western nations that far, far exceed those in Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.

David A. Andelman: A New Year, A Fresh Start?

Davis Andelman, EditorThe first Monday of the new year began in Baghdad with a unique debut: the ribbon-cutting for the world’s largest and most opulent American Embassy, and at the very moment the administration that made it most necessary (and least affordable) is headed for the exits. We are indeed, as the Chinese proverb so aptly notes, living in interesting times. Some of Wall Street’s wisest prognosticators (if that is not an oxymoron in itself) are predicting a market surge this year that could rival that of 2000 when the Internet bubble was in full flight and companies with nothing but bottled air for products commanded stratospheric prices on the wings of inflated expectations. Over the past year, our expectations have fallen to a new low, or at least our confidence. So does this signal a rock bottom of despair? Perhaps. How indeed could things get much worse than today? There is always something worse. War in Gaza could expand to include southern Lebanon and Hezbollah, drawing Iran into the equation. Markets could resume their slide even in the face of mega-wealth pouring in from every leading central bank around the globe. The diplomatic packet on Monday from India to Pakistan detailing Islamabad’s role in last year’s Mumbai terror attacks could simply be a prelude to armed conflict along that always tense frontier. China could decide to stop funding the excesses of the American consumer, sending the dollar into a fatal tailspin. Oh, and then there’s oil: as desperate a case at $40 a barrel as $140.

Leon Hadar - Israel’s Not-So-Future Perfect

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

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Al Gore presides over Arctic Roundtable 

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