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October 25, 2014

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Where I Stand:

Putting things in perspective

Happy New Year.

The Jewish people have been celebrating the new year for 5,773 years. Many of those years have been in the wilderness, under siege, running for our lives, escaping from madmen intent on eradicating us all, fighting wars against overwhelming odds and generally just fighting ignorant voices determined to do us harm.

There have been some good years, too. As a people, we have given light and law to the world, we have imagined a better life and achieved it for so many. We have invented, discovered, created and delivered on so much of the promise that life on this planet affords. In short, it has been a pretty good run so far, for all 5,773 years.

I mention this because this is a time for perspective. It is said that when you can’t see your way past the difficulties that surround you, perspective helps.

Just when we thought the presidential election was going to be about the economy, jobs, social services and a woman’s right to make health care decisions without interference from the government or her neighbors, tragedy strikes in the Middle East.

The Arab Spring has given birth to an Arab nightmare, with its gruesome images of American diplomatic and security people dead at the hands of angry, unruly and, as best we can tell, uncontrolled mobs.

Everything we have ever learned about U.S. embassies abroad being sovereign territory such that an attack on an embassy is tantamount to an attack on the United States is being turned on its head. Our nation’s leaders are trying to parse the failure of weak and ill-formed Arab governments and their inability — or lack of ability — to protect American citizens on our “own property.”

Suddenly, as it often does, security at home and abroad has trumped domestic problems late in the election cycle. And how the public perceives the handling of this attack on innocent Americans will go a long way, I believe, in determining the next president. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but here we are.

The murders of our diplomats and the knowing dilemma — Who is really responsible? Is it the government? Is it an outside force (maybe Iran) pulling the strings? What are the ramifications of striking back at militant or fundamentalist religious groups that are part of more than a billion co-religionists who may see an attack on some as an attack on all? — make for difficult choices.

President Barack Obama has to strike back at someone, somewhere. No one is allowed to kill innocent Americans without a swift and decisive response designed to deter others from similar atrocities. At the same time, the political reality is that there will be people calling for the United States to leave the area, physically, mentally and financially, and they will beat those drums right up until Election Day.

And that kind of rhetoric that we have seen and will see, as irresponsible as it may be, will challenge our leaders in the political realm, which is the last place life-and-death decisions should be taken. At a time when we should all be pulling together as one people, we will continue to pull apart for some political advantage that has nothing to do with right and wrong. Chances are good that whatever is said will be mostly wrong.

As if the embassy attacks aren’t enough of a challenge in that same vital part of the world, the threat of nuclear war looms large as Iran gets closer to obtaining nuclear status. Our country’s best and most loyal ally, Israel, is the first target for annihilation, according to the Iranian leadership, so it is no wonder that those folks are more than a bit nervous about the prospects of a nuclear Iran.

And to be perfectly clear, the United States and American interests around the world are a close second!

What has been the closest of alliances for more than 60 years — that between the U.S. and Israel — is being tested. That is in part because a nervous Israel, intent on stopping Iran at all costs, is not hearing or seeing all it wants to hear and see from its senior partner in that part of the world. The U.S. has made it crystal clear that it will not allow Iran to go nuclear, but those are only words, and if the worst were to happen, Israelis will pay the horrendous price. And that is unacceptable.

It is no secret that the relationship between Israel’s leadership and our own is a bit strained, especially during an election season in which people on both sides think some exploitation is in their own interests. But while the experts in both countries will confirm that the cooperation and support between the U.S. and Israel has never been better, the personal relationship could be a lot better.

In fact, I believe that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s public scolding of President Obama is a first, and ill-conceived at that. Partners argue, but when it comes to life-and-death decisions, those arguments must and should be private, not for public consumption and exploitation.

And the fact that it is occurring in an election year around an issue vital to a large voting bloc of Americans should not be lost on those who are trying to understand what this is all about.

This is about an existential threat that is felt far more strongly on one side of the partnership than it is perceived to be felt on the other.

Killing innocent Americans in Libya and elsewhere in response to some childish humiliation is never, ever justified and must be condemned by every Muslim the world over — but so too must the frustrations of allies be dealt with, away from the public discourse where every nuance and every word can be twisted by others and used for evil purposes.

Both a nuclear Iran and an unchecked and irresponsible Arab uprising against innocent Americans are dangerous occurrences that could have existential implications. They are serious and they must be dealt with in as thoughtful a way possible.

It helps, though, when considering our next moves that we understand that Sunday night marks the beginning of the New Year for the Jewish people who have been recording such events for 5,773 years.

It should help a little bit, as our leaders struggle to find the right answers and take the right actions, to keep all of this in perspective. With any luck at all, we will be celebrating for another 5,000 years, at least.

Happy New Year to all people of good will.

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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  1. Good article Mr. Greenspun. The only thing lacking is that Israel should bomb Iran's nuclear weapons' sites, before the election, with or without the support of the US and President Obama.

    CarmineD

  2. Yes, very good article. There one big problem if Israel were to boom Iran, the entire Arab world would be against Israel. This type of action would also divert attention from the Syrian crisis and let the Syria government off the hook, in attention to encouraging Iran to rebuild and actually having a nuclear that Iran would surely use on Israel.

    WW111 my friends, that what we all would be looking at!

    The Middle East is being changed without American boots on the ground. The Obama Administration has a stratgey that is working to change the Syria government and to stop Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. Slow progress! Netanyahu knows this!!! The question is why is Netanyahu making this noise??? Senator Barbara Boxer put Netanyahu in his place in challenging the insinuations that the Obama Administration is not committed to Israel's saftey!! This is pure BS!!! The Obama Administration has done more,---more, than any previous administration in providing safety for Israel against a regional or global threat.

    What we do know from history, during George Bush time, our Embassy were attacked Eight times!!! What we do know now, the Obama Administration has launched a relentless attack against al Qaeda and affiliated groups.

    The Middle East is being changed by the people who live there. The thoughts coming from a few, does Netanyahu want unrest in the Middle East? Everyone of military knowledge knows an attack against Iran from Israel will surely start a conflict no one will be able to control. Is Netanyahu afraid of an united Middle East? A united Arab middle east with economic power. Good figure!!!

  3. Well said, Longtime! Carmine I don't know about you.

  4. Great article, and a very happy and prosperous new year to all!!! With events pertaining to the Middle East, we hope and pray that cool heads prevail, and that conversations for some sort of acceptable action is being discussed. NO one wants a World War 3, now or ever.

    Can the whole world ever be at peace? The prophets have left us a testament that peace is a struggle on our planet. Those who have seen into the future, long ago, outline the events that guide the destiny of the inhabitants of the Earth. We can only do what is put within our power to do.

    Blessings and Peace, now and forever,
    Star

  5. "Carmine I don't know about you."

    It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the facts of the last 5 years on the US and UN failed policies to deter Iran's nuclear weapons buildup. The economic sanctions have not worked against Iran. Our leaders have confirmed that fact. The US has granted too many waivers to other countries from the sanctions allowing them to trade with Iran. The IAEA inspectors consistently confirm that the Iran government has refused to allow them access to the facilities that are known nuclear weapons plants.

    Once Iran has the capability to produce and launch nuclear weapons, it is a game changer in the mid-east. Iran will export the weapons to other Islamic nations and even worse to Al Quaeda operatives. And, sadly, we know that President Obama has put off the entire issue until after the election. Israel does not have the luxury to wait. The existence of 8 million Jews and that of Israel are at risk with each passing day of no action.

    CarmineD

  6. Carmine:

    What do you suppose Obama should do? Declare war against Iran? Really Carmine, what would it solve? Thousands of innocent people dying? Our country embroiled in yet another expensive undertaking we cannot afford? Ask the parents and spouses of those who perished in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And what have we gained? Trillions in debt and thousands of lives lost.

    We cannot possibly fathom the Presidency. It is always easy to place blame, but without knowing all the facts, we just have to trust that the President - NO President for that matter - would
    purposely put the country or its citizens in jeopardy - Republican or Democrat. They make
    decisions based on a perspective that is far beyond our realm of knowing or understanding. To lay blame without that understanding is simply ignorant.

    I realize you love Romney and hate Obama, but unless we are part of that inner circle who advise Presidents, we really know very little of the how and why decisions are made despite your claims of expertise and of being 'in the know.'

    Please don't take this negatively, but you are becoming arrogant in your opinions. I used to admire them, but not of late. Remember, we are Christians and should strive to be one. Please do not be
    like the others in this forum who are hateful and trite. If I offended you, please accept my apologies.

  7. Declaration of war is extreme. Red lines are better. Limits are better. Ultimatums are better. And follow up action by Israel supported by President Obama if Iran refuses.

    To start, a meeting between Netanyahu and President Obama would be useful. Rather than President Obama's lame excuses for refusing.

    WRT your opinions of me, they are meaningless to the debate and discussions. You are entitled to think and write publicly and privately whatever you like. Personal opinions have no bearing on truth and facts in the matter. Except to emotionalize and incite and impede civil discourse.

    It was years of appeasement, atonemnet and apologies to Hitler and the Nazis that ultimately resulted in WW2 in Europe. History repeats itself. We are better served to profit by it than repeat it.

    What do you think would happen if Iran gets and uses nuclearization for war in the region?

    CarmineD

  8. "They will either become a member of the community of nations that possesses nukes.."

    Not an option. Those nations as a group are against Iran getting nuclearization for weapons.

    CarmineD

  9. It is really easy to make decisions when you only have a limited view of issues, but when you have a broader perspective, things get harder.

    Anyway public discourse in a forum like this is nothing but people expressing their views, but does not really influence policies. Speaking like we know everything and that we have the solution to the world problems, is simply arrogance.

    I always wonder why those people claiming that they have better solutions have not been recruited by the White House!

  10. Mr. Greenspun, thank you for your Editorial. Happy New Year to you too! By the way, there is a "Greenspun" in my Ancestry. That was news to me!

  11. "I always wonder why those people claiming that they have better solutions have not been recruited by the White House!"

    Some of us were.... for 33 years. Hope this is not bragging and boasting to my friend Sam Pizzo.

    CarmineD

  12. "What do you think would happen if Iran gets and uses nuclearization for war in the region?

    CarmineD"

    I posed this question above. The Sun's Smith World answered today. I wholeheartedly agree. As they say, a picture even cartoon is worth a thousand words.

    CarmineD

  13. Civil unrest will continue to escalate amidst economic problems. Hedge fund Bridgewater Associates CEO Ray Dalio fears the worlds economic problems might lead to creation of another Hitler. Economic warnings are a regular occurrence. What the world needs most is a resurgence of fair media, that peoples champion and conscience of nations holding history of inspiring citizens to gather overwhelming public opinion in order to force needed changes. Good government and fair media, you can't have one without the other!