The pundits have spoken. Most believe that the State of The Union Address is a combination of self-congratulation over what was done in the last year and a laundry list of what should be done in the year ahead. In reality it represents fanfare without substance; there is scarcely a difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama in these annual speeches.
Rising from the ugly portals of dictatorship and control, is the irrevocable value of open expression. Free speech, indeed the ability to make decisions for yourself, is a gift bequeathed to citizens residing with Western traditions. At times speech is hateful and tasteless – an unappetizing features of freedom. But this is a price willingly paid to assure free exchange.
For months the American government has averted its gaze to the nefarious activity of the Iranian government. As the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, one might assume our national policy would be designed to counter this Iranian threat. In fact, it is no longer accurate to describe the war in Syria as conflict between Assad’s regime forces and the rebels. It is a war directed and fought by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah with Assad playing a secondary role.
The negotiations in Vienna to restrict or prevent Iran from enriching sufficient fissile material to build nuclear weapons, raises the specter of yet a new round in what some have described as “the second nuclear age.” For the uninitiated, the first nuclear age was the period in the Cold War when the U.S. and allies confronted the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal. The second nuclear age is defined by the multiplicity of nuclear powers linked together by varying levels of cooperation and conflict.
Images of distinguished rabbis hacked to death in a blood soaked synagogues floor during a prayer service are about a hatred so deep that any rational discourse cannot assuage it. These images evoke memories of the Holocaust and the flight from Europe to a national home. Israelis’ are assailed by the same venomous loathing they sought to escape and the same international indifference to their plight.
While the wizards of new technology wax lyrically about the wonders of technological development, there is another side, one often overlooked in the avalanche of new products. Clearly computers have changed our lives, opened new horizons of learning and have abbreviated research efforts, but there are hidden societal costs that are unnoticed or intentionally ignored.
November 24, 2014, looms as a strategic date in world history. At that time, a deadline for a deal with Iran will be reached. And, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among others, has said “no deal is better than a bad deal,” it appears as if President Obama’s team and the so-called P5+1 group — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany – are seeking any deal rather than no deal.