As the terrible violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip continues, I’ve seen a lot of commentary that seems to be focused on placing all the blame on one side or the other. Some of this goes so far as to question the legitimacy of either the Jewish state or the goal of a two-state solution that includes a Palestinian state. I’m not sure what outcome the people who reject these things have in mind, but it’s pretty terrible to contemplate. Continue reading
Iranians go to the polls on June 14th to elect a successor to outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the violent crackdown on protests of the disputed 2009 presidential election, there is far less excitement among Iranian voters this time around.
Nevertheless, this is still an important event, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has an excellent rundown of how the election process works and the powers of the Iranian president. For example, after several reformist candidates were disqualified, I wondered whether the many conservative candidates would split the conservative vote. Could that open the door for a unified reformist bloc to elect their preferred candidate? After reading the RFE/RL guide, I know that’s not going to happen:
To win, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote to claim victory. If no candidate wins an outright majority, a runoff will be held a week later between the two candidates with the most votes in the first round.
Runoffs prevent vote-splitting scenarios, since the field narrows down to two for the decisive round.
It should be noted that RFE/RL is funded by the U.S. Government, with the mission of promoting democratic values and reporting news in countries where a free press is banned or not fully established. RFE/RL reaches Iran through Radio Farda, whose website receives 10 million page views per month. Continue reading
Polls have found that Americans view Congress in a worse light than cockroaches, traffic jams, and the band Nickelback. So, this post serves as a reminder that things could be a lot worse. At least we aren’t Russia.
When a Russian journalist named Sergei Magnitsky reported a $230 million tax fraud carried out by Russian officials, their response outdid any misconduct we could ever imagine from our own IRS. Magnitsky was framed for committing the tax fraud himself, arrested, and beaten to death. The United States addressed the Magnitsky case by passing sanctions against Russian government officials who were involved in the mistreatment and killing of Magnitsky, or other human rights violations. Continue reading
This week’s House hearings on the Benghazi attack bolster the claim that Susan Rice was providing an account of the attacks as a spontaneous demonstration that the Obama Administration already knew to be unlikely. The star witness was Gregory Hicks, who was the ranking official under Ambassador Chris Stevens at the U.S. Embassy in Libya. Hicks testified that his immediate conclusion was that this was a terrorist attack, which was also the early conclusion of the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.