THE WIRE 08/15/14
By David Ludwig

Elizabeth R. Beavers and Michael Shank in The New York Times on why American police forces are too militarized. Beavers and Shank write that the reaction to protests in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown demonstrate that U.S. police forces have been over-equipped with weaponry from the Pentagon. “After loading up with free military gear, it is no surprise that law enforcement agents want to use it. In fact, the 1033 program’s regulations require that the police use what they receive within one year… In the absence of extreme violence or actual terrorist threat, what happens — as the American Civil Liberties Union has documented — is that the equipment and weapons are used by SWAT teams in routine situations, such as low-level drug raids or the execution of search warrants.” They contend that the Pentagon should cease the transfer of military style weapons to local police forces. “Militarizing our police officers does not have to be the first response to violence.”

Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post on why viable moderate leaders don’t exist in the Middle East. Zakaria writes that while Hillary Clinton’s recent statements about arming so-called moderates in the region has become popular, it’s not viable. “For decades, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been to support ‘moderates.’ The problem is that there are actually very few of them. The Arab world is going through a bitter, sectarian struggle that is ‘carrying the Islamic world back to the Dark Ages,’ said Turkish President Abdullah Gul. In these circumstances, moderates either become extremists or they lose out in the brutal power struggles of the day.” Zakaria refutes the claim that arming Syrian moderates would have made an impact. “In an excellent essay for The Post, George Washington University professor Marc Lynch cites careful historical studies that demonstrate that in a chaotic, violent civil war such as Syria’s — with many outside players funding their favorite groups — U.S. intervention would have had little effect other than to extend and exacerbate the conflict.”

Will Marshall in Politico on why Hillary Clinton can lead the Democratic party into a new golden age of foreign policy. Marshall contends that Barack Obama’s foreign policy hasn’t been bold enough, and that Clinton should now step in to fill the void. “Democrats would be wiser to accept Clinton’s implicit challenge to talk more about the positive uses of American power. Much of the world now believes that a declining America is abandoning its leadership role. Is that what Democrats believe?” He adds that Obama’s fixation on al Qaeda is also a poor framing. “Like communism and fascism, radical Islam is a totalitarian creed. It is fundamentally hostile to liberal concepts of individualism, liberty of conscience, pluralism and tolerance. The civilized world can’t coexist with a retrograde doctrine that sanctions barbaric violence against nonbelievers, that kills and abducts girls for going to school, that suppresses women’s sexuality and rights, and that prescribes death for adultery and homosexuality.”

David Gardner in The Financial Times on how Saudi Arabia and Iran hold the keys to stability in the Middle East. Barack Obama’s attempt to create a more stable equilibrium in the region has gone down in flames, according to Gardner.  Ultimately, stability in the region will have to come from elsewhere. “Saudi Arabia, the leading Sunni Arab power, and Iran, its Persian Shia rival, have both used sectarianism as a galvanising weapon in their struggle for regional power. Wahhabi fundamentalism is the ideological backbone of the Saudi absolute monarchy and has always abominated Shiism as a polytheist heresy, like the jihadis of Isis who pledge to annihilate it. … Iran became a theocracy after the 1979 Islamic Revolution but, unlike the Wahhabis, has no theological animus against other mainstream religions. Yet both countries have uncaged sectarian demons they cannot control.” Gardner suggests that in their quest for regional dominance Iran and Saudi Arabia have increased instability in the area. “The region is very far gone, descending daily to new depths of violence… If these crumbling states can be reassembled, it will require a pan-communal effort to provide equal citizenship and secure diversity, through strong confederal institutions that nevertheless command assent by devolving power and defending minority rights. But this is theoretical unless this demonic sectarian spiral can be broken.”

Daniel Gordis in Bloomberg View on why the recent violence in Gaza has awakened a new generation of Israelis to their surrounding threats. Gordis compares Hamas’ recent attack on a Kibutz in Israel to another attack on an Israeli Kibutz in 1956.  “At the time, Israel — a mere fledgling state — did not control Gaza. Those refugee camps were not of Israel’s making, but still, Israelis recognized and were pained by the suffering on the Arab side, caused by Arab losses in the first Arab-Israeli war, a war Israel did not seek. Today, no less, Israelis understand Gazan anger at the siege and are anguished by the civilian losses in Gaza.” Gordis contends that Hamas’ rise to power has awakened Israel to the threats around them. “In recent years, many Israelis on the political left had ‘forgotten’ the loathing that surrounds them. It is Hamas that has reminded them, Hamas that has rekindled Israeli resilience, with the deaths.”