What do you think of Gunter Grass’s controversial new poem?

"The idea, put forward by Grass, that there is a taboo in German intellectual and political life about criticizing Israel and its policies has been a favorite theme of Israel’s critics since the 1960s. But the taboo does not exist. There has been no silence in Germany, especially in such places as Der Spiegel or the Süddeutsche Zeitung, not to mention among intellectual and political forces to their left, for many decades. On the contrary, hostility to both Israel and the United States, and the view that these two countries are the major threat to world peace, became embedded in the German left-wing and left-liberal mainstream many decades ago. In this sense, Grass’s diatribe is part of a long established conventional wisdom. It takes neither courage nor intelligence to run with the mob. Grass’s poem seeks to make the mob yell even louder.”

- Jeffrey Herf, The Odious Musings of Gunter Grass

Photo courtesy of The Leader Post

Would deterrence work against Iran?

"Thirty years ago I wrote a tiny book in defense of nuclear deterrence. Against the nuclear freezers and the nuclear war-fighters, deterrence was not hard to defend: my argument was drearily sensible. But I was nervously aware that I was urging good sense about a strategic situation that was senseless, because it was premised upon the credibility of a threat of holocaust."

- Leon Wieseltier, The Confidence Game

Photo courtesy of the blaze

Can Israel count on Obama’s support if it launches a strike?

"When the President of the United States repeatedly says he’s got your back, and in precisely those words, what more can you ask for?

Yet as I read Obama’s interview with Jeff Goldberg in The Atlantic, then his speech to the AIPAC convention, and finally reports of his meeting with Netanyahu, I felt increasingly uneasy”

-Yossi Klein Halevi, Why Israel Still Can’t Trust That Obama Has Its Back

Can Israel trust the United States when it comes to Iran?

"Even if Barack Obama is truly the pro-Israel president his Jewish supporters claim he is, the [Lyndon] Johnson precedent tells us that it may not matter. Like Johnson, Obama presides over a nation wary of another military adventure, especially in the Middle East. According to Israeli press reports, Netanyahu intends to ask Obama to state—beyond the vaue formulation that all options are on the table—that the U.S. will use military force if Iran is about to go nuclear. But few here expect Obama to make that policy explicit."

—Yossi Klein Halevi, “Can Israel trust the United States when it comes to Iran?”

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Can Obama’s record on foreign policy back up his “hawkish” reputation?

"Of course, it is not the president’s sagacity that is in judgment. It is his honesty, his honesty to himself, surely, but also his honesty to us. Ajami published in the last issue of TNR an essay about a novel first published in Beirut four years ago, titled In Praise of Hatred and written by Khaled Khalifa. It is about today’s bloodletting, yesterday’s sectarian political program, eternal loathing. And, to be sure, Syria’s ace-in-the-hole, its proximity to Israel, that it was the confrontation state. These insights laid out in a novel were not secrets. They were common knowledge. But Obama somehow believed that he could talk these truths out of their secure place in the world."

-Martin Peretz, “Obama’s ‘Hawkish’ Foreign Policy? If Only It Were So.

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Cafe Milano in Georgetown is the place to see and be seen. According to the Washington Post’s gossip column “Reliable Source,” it’s also the location for a foiled terror plot against the Saudi Ambassador to the United States:

I mention this because the Saudi ambassador’s purported fondness for the place is merely the latest instance confirming that Cafe Milano has become the most fashionable restaurant in Washington, DC., without ever entering the usual intermediate stage of becoming one of the best.”

-Timothy Noah, “The Mystery of Cafe Milano.”

Photo courtesy of Wonkette.