The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens was my guest Tuesday, discussing his new book, America in Retreat:
HH: In Jerusalem today, five rabbis at prayer slaughtered by Islamist militants, three of them Americans, five dead in that attack. I’m joined today by Bret Stephens. Bret is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. In 2013, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his commentary. He’s the foreign affairs columnist there, also the deputy editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal. He previously was the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. I’m sure he’s been following events today. We’re going to talk mostly about, this hour, his new book, America In Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. But I would be obtuse if I did not ask you, Bret, for your reaction to this, and how ominous it is that this sort of viral, random violence is spreading.
BS: Well, the first point to make is the attack is just extraordinarily barbaric. I mean, to attack people in prayer with axes and knives and guns has a quality of brutality that is unique, even if there are all kinds of ways of dying. I just felt, quite frankly, when I saw the scenes of it, I felt sick. But it’s also a reminder, Hugh, that the problem that Israel confronts in the Middle East, and the problem that the United States confronts is not a question of territory borders, settlements. It’s a question of political culture and ethical culture, because almost as disturbing to me, I’m sure you felt the way, wasn’t just what was done. It was the scenes of jubilation in Palestinian streets that these two cousins had gone in there and butchered peaceful people in prayer in Jerusalem. And when you have a culture that is like that, you have a much larger set of problems on your hand, and you have to look that culture in the face. You have to understand what it’s about, and you have to be clear-eyed about how you can engage it. I don’t know what the proper response to this kind of barbarism is, but it certainly can’t be demands for Israeli retreat. Continue Reading