Sunday, July 27, 2014

In Israel and Gaza, extremism run amok

Aflame

By David Remnick, New Yorker

Because memory, particularly historical memory, fails unfailingly, this summer feels like a uniquely horrific season of dissolution and blood. “You name it, the world is aflame,” Gary Samore, a former national-security aide in the Obama Administration, told Peter Baker, of the Times, the other day. “We always have a mix of complicated interests. That’s not unusual. What’s unusual is there’s this outbreak of violence and instability everywhere.”

The supposed tranquillity of earlier seasons is almost always an artifact of distance. And yet Samore’s “everywhere” is forgivable hyperbole. In eastern Ukraine, where hundreds of corpses, and a dozen or so planes, lay shattered in fields of wheat and sunflowers, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear his intention to base his legitimacy at home on defiance abroad. In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, President Goodluck Jonathan’s government appears powerless to stop Boko Haram, which has kidnapped hundreds of girls to demonstrate its pious opposition to the values of secularism and education. The men of ISIS, a radical Islamic force with origins in Al Qaeda, have planted their black flag over swaths of eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq. Earlier this year, when President Obama was asked how he could claim that Al Qaeda had been “decimated” when jihadi flags were now aloft in Falluja, he resorted to a blithe formulation. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the President told this magazine. The tone at the White House is no longer quite so unalarmed.

(More here.)

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