Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In last year’s New Year’s column I contended that the Iranian nuclear issue is undoubtedly the most important question the United States would be facing in the coming year, and – for once – my prediction turned out to be largely correct. The ongoing negotiations, which began in January, were recently extended into 2015 – and the repercussions have impacted US foreign policy in a major way.

Our relations with Israel, our best frenemy, have deteriorated to the point where the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers to deal with the US Congress rather than the executive branch. The Jewish state, for its part, continues to teeter into full-blown extremism – threatening to take military action against Iran, and actively subverting negotiations with the Palestinians, which are at a standstill.

Meanwhile, in spite of Israeli sabotage, the talks between Tehran and the West continue – and war has so far been averted. That’s the best thing that has happened in ages – and we should all be grateful we’ve been spared the horrors of what would amount to World War III.

Another positive factor on the diplomatic front has been the opening to Cuba, undertaken by the Obama administration with uncharacteristic boldness. Protests by such throwbacks as Sen. Marco Rubio and the usual neocon suspects have only underscored their posturing unreasonableness: polls show the majority of Americans support the move. Chalk up another victory for non-interventionism and the subversive idea that trade and free travel between nations is the best remedy for dealing with the infections brought on by totalitarian sclerosis.

The debate over the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden, which threw back the curtain on the National Security Agency’s worldwide spying operation, reached a fever pitch in 2014, with political implications that have yet to fully play out. The Obama administration’s intellectual Praetorian Guard went all-out in an attempt to trivialize and justify the Surveillance State, denigrating and smearing both Snowden and the journalists who brought this story to the American people. What struck me is that the Regime’s most enthusiastic defenders were, for the most part, self-identified "progressives," such as Prof. Sean Wilentz (a prominent friend of Hillary Clinton), George "I was for the Iraq war before I was against it" Packer, and Cass Sunstein, former Obama administration official and advocate of a sinister plan to "infiltrate" the Internet with pro-government agents.

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