World

Why Bibi and the BDS Movement Need Each Other

The boycott movement provides Israel's prime minister with a useful enemy, and he reciprocates with valuable publicity.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 15th Herzeliya Conference in Herzeliya, Israel, Tuesday, June 9, 2015. " We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the State of Israel," Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a statement to the media before a recent cabinet meeting. A warning like that from Israel's prime minister isn't new. Neither was his identifying the threat as a modern expression of eternal anti-Semitism. "It is not connected to our actions. It is connected to our very existence. ... Now, this is a phenomenon that we have known in the history of our people. ... They said we are the foundation of evil in the world. They said that we are the poisoners of the wells of humanity." That's all classic Netanyahu rhetoric. The twist was that he wasn't talking about the Iranian regime, but about what he portrayed as a powerful international campaign to isolate and boycott Israel. Why now? In comparison, Netanyahu's "this is 1938 and...

Why Voluntary Standards Won't Make the Global Garment Industry Safer

After voluntary codes of conduct failed to prevent the Rana Plaza disaster, garment companies pass the blame. 

AP Photo/A.M. Ahad
AP Photo/A.M. Ahad In this Monday, April 20, 2015 photo, Mahamudul Hasan Ridoy, 27, who worked at Rana Plaza, the garment factory building that collapsed, walks with the help of a crutch at the site of the accident in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. O n Monday, June 1, police in Bangladesh filed murder and other charges against the owners of the Rana Plaza building, the landlord of the factories that collapsed two years ago, killing at least 1,138 workers and injuring about 2,500. The collapse was a spectacular moment in a sordid history of fires and collapses in the Bangladesh and global garment industry. The cutthroat competition of that industry is a furnace that fuels thousands of deaths and injuries. Last weekend, by coincidence, a conference was held at Harvard, called Transformation Challenges and Opportunities for the Bangladesh Garment Industry. Attending were Bangladesh cabinet members and the heads of two major safety initiatives—The “Accord” and the “Alliance”—as well as...

The Limits of Rand Paul's Constitutional Convictions

Posing as defender of the Bill of Rights, the presidential hopeful steers clear of grandstanding on popular measures he deems unconstitutional.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Republican presidential candidate, Republican Senator Rand Paul pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, to call for the 28 classified pages of the 9-11 report to be declassified. I n the political world, legislative hijinks, oratorical grandstanding, and intramural savagery are nothing new. But when U.S. Senator Rand Paul, the Republican presidential candidate, scuttled the passage of a bill that would have renewed the USA PATRIOT Act on May 31, he brought those three methods together in the service of an electoral campaign the polls give him long odds of winning, and in a way that aimed fusillades of personal ambition even closer to the heart of American democracy than is customary—especially for a first-termer. As long as C-SPAN has existed, denizens of the U.S. Capitol have recognized the value of staging floor speeches designed for capture by the television cameras. But Paul upped the ante in 2013 with his 13-...

Marco Rubio's Far-Right Foreign Policy Gambit

The GOP hopeful wants 2016 to be all about Iran and Cuba. 

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks at the Georgia Republican Convention, Friday, May 15, 2015, in Athens, Georgia. I f the GOP field seemed obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2012, there’s a good chance that 2016 will be all about undoing President Obama’s foreign policy. With the ACA now firmly entrenched in the American political psyche—not to mention American law—Republican frontrunners have taken aim on Obama’s record on Iran, Cuba, and Syria. Like the battle over who was more vigorously opposed to Obamacare, Republicans will first use foreign policy as a way to whittle down their own crowded playing field, writes Steve Inskeep at npr.org. Naturally, this strategy is a risky one. Competing to see who can go furthest right on foreign affairs may play well in the primaries, but it can make the GOP nomination that much less palatable come November 2016. If there’s a progressive silver lining in this story, it’s here:...

The Soldier's Story

What happens when one corporal speaks out about how the occupation corrupts Israel.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit Members of an Israeli military honor guard conduct a rehearsal ahead of a Memorial Day ceremony at Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 20, 2015. C orporal Shachar Berrin's commander in the Israeli army sentenced him to a week in prison. His brother emailed me to let me know so I wouldn't be surprised when the story eventually broke in the news. Shachar's offense, as handwritten on a disciplinary form, was participating "in a political meeting, while in uniform, in the presence of the media." That's partly true: He was in uniform, and TV cameras were recording. But it wasn't a political meeting. And judging from circumstances, the real reasons for his quick trial and sentence were the presence of right-wing activists and what he said about serving in the West Bank in daily interaction with Palestinians. "When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people... I think that seeps in...

How Solar Is Lighting the Way for Recovery in Nepal

Renewable energy companies have formed a coalition to repower the country after its massive earthquake. 

(Photo: Milap Dwa)
(Photo: Milap Dwa) Milap Dwa and Chij Kumar​, technicians from Gham Power​, installing a 120-watt solar PV system kit on top of one of the few houses in Barpak, Gorkha, that are still standing. I n the days following Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 25, as massive power outages complicated relief efforts, Sandeep Giri and his coworkers were shaken but determined to help. Giri, who was born and raised in Nepal, is the CEO of Gham Power , a solar company that’s been operating in Nepal for the last five years. After the earthquake, Gham Power’s employees sprung into action to deploy solar power systems that could power lights and mobile charging stations for relief workers and the displaced. Besides basic needs like medical attention, food, water, and shelter, electricity is a major issue in the wake of a disaster, says Giri. “First, you don't want to be in the dark, as it's scary, you don't feel safe, and it is also very cumbersome to get or administer relief without light...

Why Everyone Wants the Military Budget to Be Bigger

It's not about "defense." 

Vito Palmisano/Getty
Vito Palmisano/Getty N ow that we've finally ( almost ) clarified who would have invaded Iraq and who wouldn't have, it's time for a little perspective. Yes, it's a good thing that elite Republicans are moving toward agreeing with the rest of us that invading Iraq was a mistake, even if they base their argument on the myth of "faulty intelligence." But there's another consensus in Washington, one that says that our military should never be anything short of gargantuan, ready to start more wars whenever a future George W. Bush wants to. At the end of last week, the House passed a defense authorization bill worth $612 billion, a number that was possible to reach only with some budgetary hocus-pocus involving classifying $89 billion of it as "emergency" spending, thereby avoiding the cuts mandated by sequestration. While the White House has objected to the way the bill moves money around, that $612 billion number is exactly what President Obama asked for. Even the guy who's supposedly...

Little Magazine, Big Ideas: The American Prospect at 25

Reflecting on a quarter century of politics and change.

T he American Prospect began 25 years ago with a small circulation, a limited budget, and great ambitions. Our aim was to rethink ideas about public policy and politics and thereby to restore plausibility and persuasiveness to American liberalism. The first issue appeared in spring 1990, a moment when Democrats had lost three successive presidential elections, conservatives were pushing schemes for privatization, and liberals were in disarray. But in 1990, Congress was still in Democratic hands, the Cold War was coming to an end with the Soviet collapse, and the focus of politics was turning from foreign to domestic policy. Rising economic anxieties, it seemed, might spur political change just as a “peace dividend” could finance new initiatives. By historic good fortune, the Prospect had arrived at a time not only of global change but also of “liberal opportunity,” as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called it in the first issue, which carried a cover image of an old world cracking open to...

Should We Relitigate the Iraq War in the 2016 Campaign? You Bet We Should

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images News)
View image | gettyimages.com I f all goes well, in the 2016 campaign we'll be rehashing the arguments we had about the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003. You may be thinking, "Jeez, do we really have to go through that again?" But we do—in fact, we must. If we're going to make sense of where the next president is going to take the United States on foreign policy, there are few more important discussions to have. On Sunday, Fox News posted an excerpt of an interview Megyn Kelly did with Jeb Bush in which she asked him whether he too would have invaded Iraq, and here's how that went : Kelly : Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? Bush : I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. Kelly : You don't think it was a mistake? Bush : In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty. And in...

Netanyahu's New Government: Weak, Extreme, and Unpredictable

To stay in power, Israel's prime minister created a government even further right than he is.

(Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
(Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner) A s the minutes and seconds left for Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government flashed on my screen Wednesday night, I passed the time by reading Daniel Kahneman on the futility of political predictions. "Reality emerges from many different agents and forces. ... Short-term trends can be forecast with fair accuracy from previous behaviors," writes the Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate in economics. "You should not expect much from making long-term forecasts." Kahneman seems overly optimistic about even short-term predictions when it comes to the politics of his native land—though he could fairly answer that in Israel seven weeks is long-term. That's how long it's been since the Israeli election, when Netanyahu defeated both his left-wing challenger and all of the country's pollsters. Immediately after the vote, the impression among the public and most of the expert class was that his way was paved to a new coalition, stronger than the one...

The West's Regard for Charlie Hedbo Victims Not Extended to African Targets of Extremist Violence

Massacres in Nigeria and Garissa, Kenya, did not draw nearly as much worldwide attention or grief as Charlie Hebdo. What does that say about how we value African lives?

(AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
(Photo: AP/Lionel Cironneau) People in Nice, France, hold "I am Charlie" signs while participating in a silent march on January 10, commemorating the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris. O n May 5, the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo will receive the PEN American Center’s annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award. As of May 1, 145 writers have signed a letter of protest, on the grounds that the award would endorse the Islamophobia many associate with the magazine. Yet beyond a criticism like this, the fact that the Charlie Hebdo attack still occupies so much worldwide attention speaks to a selective memory of human rights abuses. In the months since, atrocities elsewhere have not inspired the same humanitarian response. And this is cause for concern. As it should be, the savage attack on Charlie Hebdo ’s Paris headquarters in January in which 12 were killed threw many of us into a deep stupor. The world stopped. Then, the world moved immediately to demonstrate...

16 Million Refugees Are Not Some Other Country's Problem

A Marshall Plan now is cheaper than military action to deal with collapsing states later.

Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP Photo
Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP Photo Migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as rescue vassel "Denaro" of the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, in the Mediterranean Sea, Wednesday, April 22, 2015. T he world today is facing a crisis of people fleeing their home countries in the greatest numbers seen since World War II. How is it responding? Item: Two Eritrean refugees who reached Israel by crossing the Sinai desert went to court Thursday, asking for an injunction preventing the government from deporting them to Rwanda. The policy of forced deportation is new, but a recent report by Israeli refugee-rights organizations shows that in case after case, Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers who supposedly left voluntarily in 2013-2014 did so under pressure, including threats of indefinite detention. Those sent to Rwanda were in turn expelled by authorities there almost immediately. Others were sent back to Sudan, where some were imprisoned and tortured for the crime of...

A Test for Hillary Clinton: Obama's Trade Deals

(White House photo/ Public Domain via Flickr)
(Official White House Photo via Flickr) President Barack Obama delivers remarks with then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (left) at the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue reception at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 2010. O pposition to the Obama administration's proposed major trade deals is getting firmer among Democrats in Congress. Both chambers must approve trade promotion authority, better known as fast-track, in order for the deals to move forward. One Democrat who has avoided taking a position is Hillary Clinton. In the past, she has supported deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but lately she has tried to give herself some wiggle room without opposing fast-track, saying last Tuesday that any agreement has to create jobs, as well as increase prosperity, and improve security. That's pretty amorphous. Clinton, of course, does not get to vote on the measure because she is no longer a senator. But pressure is increasing from...

Two Years After the Rana Plaza Disaster, Are Reforms Real?

A series of garment factory fires in Bangladesh spurred reforms in the industry. But will they bring meaningful change?

Rijans007/Flickr
Rijans007/Flickr T wo years ago, on the morning of April 24 th 2013, garment workers at Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh, were afraid to enter the eight-story building that housed five factories. Cracks had appeared in supporting pillars the day before and the workers had been sent home. Bank and retail stores on the ground floor did not open that day. Industrial inspectors had urged the owner of the building to keep it closed. But its well-connected landlord, Sohel Rana, got another local official to say he could inform the factory owners that the building was safe. Supervisors standing at the entrance to the building threatened workers with the loss of their month’s overtime pay (as much as half of their total earnings) if they stayed away. In an account reported by an Australian journalist, one worker was quoted as saying, “The bosses came after us with beating sticks. In the end, we were forced to go in.” Shortly after the workday began, the building collapsed. More than 1,100...

Greece on the Razor's Edge

Bailing out Greece is politically impossible—it's also increasingly necessary. 

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis A pedestrian passes anti-austerity graffiti in front of Athens Academy on Thursday, January 29, 2015. T he morning after Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza coalition won the Greek elections in late January, an old friend called from Athens. He’d been a senior figure in the Papandreou government that had struggled for nearly two years to stave off the collapse of the Greek economy, so he knew firsthand just how deadly the chalice now about to be passed to Tsipras was. He also knew Tsipras personally—Greece is a small country—as well as Yanis Varoufakis and other key figures who would be appointed to the new government. And he clearly understood what Tsipras aimed to do to quickly and decisively break “the golden shackles” that had bound Greeks in a crushing web of debt: face down the creditors. But my friend also knew firsthand the stubbornly conservative and judgmental consensus that had steadily solidified, not just among European elites but among a broader European...

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