ANDREW J. BACEVICH, America Magazine: The National Catholic Weekly, 29 March 2010
In American politics, deficits have suddenly become all the rage. Throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, the federal government hemorrhaged red ink, with no one paying much attention. Upon the election of Barack Obama, however, the rules abruptly changed. As if overnight, Republicans in Congress discovered that theirs is the party of fiscal conservatism. From out of nowhere came the Tea Party movement, providing at least a pretty good imitation of people who are “mad as hell” about a government unable to manage its own affairs and careening toward bankruptcy. Although the administration’s spending plans add more than a trillion dollars each year to the national debt, President Obama himself has allowed that this might not be such a good thing—for long. In Washington the sky grows dark with deficit hawks.
But the deficits that plague the United States extend well beyond the realm of fiscal policy. At least as important is a deficit in self-awareness that makes it difficult for policymakers to learn from and avoid repeating past mistakes. Continue reading…
Bojan Pancevski in Skopje, Sunday Times [UK], 28 Mar 2010
SAUDI ARABIA is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan.
According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilise the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.
Fundamentalists have financed the construction of scores of mosques and community centres as well as handing some followers up to £225 a month. They are expected not only to grow beards but also to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans.