A MIX OF IDEAS
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hose who recognized the absur-
dity of identifying Israel's West
Bank settlements as the major
barrier to peace in the Middle East
were heartened when Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu flatly refused to go
Despite President Barack Obama's
statement that even natural popula-
tion growth could not justify expansion
of any settlement, Israel would not be
enticed by the politics of illusion and
It refused to consider such a policy
and, after a while, Obama's insistence just
sort of turned to vapor.
That was unquestionably the proper
step for Israel. But on the larger scale of
world affairs, it is also becoming a worri-
some pattern in American foreign policy
among regimes far less friendly than
The recent award of the Nobel Peace
Prize to Obama has stirred many of his
admirers and puzzled others. But the
theme that has seemed to emerge in
recent months is that other countries can
promise him one thing and then wave off
their apparent commitment a little bit
Russia indicated that if proposed
anti-missile systems in Poland and the
Czech Republic were never built, it would
join Obama in seeking tougher sanctions
against Iran. The president agreed, our
two European allies were not pleased and
Russia never followed through.
In other talks, Iran revealed a previ-
ously hidden nuclear site near Qum and
said it would ship fuel from that reactor
to Russia and France for enrichment. That
would prove to Obama its intention to use
it for peaceful means. A few weeks later, at
nuclear talks in Vienna, Iran denied that
it ever intended to send this fuel abroad
unless it was supplied with new fuel that
would remain in the country.
There is solid evidence, in spite of
the condemnation of the Blame Israel
First community, that Israel's policies of
retaliation have calmed both the Lebanese
and Gaza borders. The New York Times
describes Israel as "safer today, quieter
and more prosperous than ever." But Iran
Both America and Israel agree that Iran
is playing a dangerous game. Even if the
amount of low-enriched uranium remain-
ing there were used for ostensibly peaceful
purposes, it would give Iran an enormous
head start on the enrichment process to
turn it into weapons-grade material.
WE USED TO
OF . . .
Israel was depending on the United
States to keep the pressure on Iran and
make sure that fuel would be enriched in
Russia and France. The repeated willing-
ness of the U.S. to take "no" for an answer
is not good news in this case.
The Obama administration is still find-
ing its footing in foreign policy. Let us
hope it has the flexibility to learn when
"no" can be a disagreement between
friends and when it is a thumb in the eye
from regimes who find us weak. 1-1
The tension between the
immensely wealthy and
alluring Veronica and the
perky, cute-as-a-button Betty
occupies a distinct place in
American pop culture. It
endures through the decades.
Just as teens were first being
identified as a distinct popula-
tion category and the choices
of romantic love were widen-
ing for them, Archie and his
friends insinuated themselves
into our consciousness.
I think that Veronica would
be the worst possible choice
for Archie. It's obvious that he'd be led
around by the nose, neutered by the
demands of life with big money, an aging
bore whose conversation would turn to
the five-iron he made last weekend at the
Betty would offer no such financial
comfort zone but I think they'd probably
laugh a lot more. And she would be a lot
kinder to Jughead as they all grew older.
I don't follow the comics much any-
more. Not even my former all-time favor-
ite Captain Marvel, a strip I admired for
its realism. After all, unless he got the
word "Shazam" out before getting conked
on the noggin one more time, he had no
super powers. Only Kryptonite can stop
Superman but the Captain needed two
syllables worth of time.
Besides, that red suit with the lightning
bolts was quite the statement.
But Archie, please, listen up. If you
must go through with Plan A, don't sign a
pre-nup. And I'd strongly advise against
your wedding dance being "Sugar, Sugar."
You almost lost me when you recorded
that clunker. I I
e pulled off Interstate 80 sev-
eral years ago on the return
leg of a driving trip to New
York City to spend the night in a small
town in Pennsylvania.
After checking in at the motel, we
began to explore; to see if there was any-
thing special to do. That turned out to
be a bit too much to hope for. Then I was
struck with an inspiration.
"Do you know where we are I asked
Sherry. "This is Archie Andrews' home-
I began to point out Jughead's house,
the soda shop, the grove along the river
where the gang met for picnics. Sherry
soon got into the spirit of things and as
we drove around we identified where
Veronica and Betty probably lived, too.
Well, it could have been Archie's town
and it helped us laugh away the after-
The famous comic strip teenager was
in the news again last summer.
In one of the best-selling single
comic books of all time, he
finally decided that he would
ask Veronica to marry him.
Since Archie made his first
appearance in 1941, it only
took him 68 years to make
this choice. There are lots of
men who would say that is a
perfectly adequate amount of
Not that it was any big
surprise. Every time Veronica
looked his way (or on the old
radio show called him "Archie-
kins"), he would turn into a drooling fool.
While good old Betty, whose eyes burned
with true love, turned sadly aside.
But hang on there. It turned out that the
Veronica option was only that. A follow-up
edition of the comic took a story line in
which Betty wins the ring, after all.
George Cantor's e-mail address is
October 29 • 2009