AIPAC: so 2008?

Here at FP, we watched U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John Kerry's speeches at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. We parsed the response to the two-state solution proffered by both. We considered their call for a settlement-freeze. We read about Netanyahu's reception.

Israel and Palestine -- and AIPAC especially -- tend to be tinder-box issues, and we expected to find ourselves amid some policy or defense discussion (flamewar?) in the blogosphere.

Oddly, what we noticed most was the sound of crickets.

Why the silence? Barack Obama isn't speaking (the big reason for last year's spike), The Israel Lobby is old news, there's relatively little violence between Israel and its neighbors, and the Israeli elections are over; plus, no one has yet said anything too contentious. The issues that make AIPAC's conference hot are, for the moment, relatively cool.

An extremely unofficial measurement of the response -- Google Trends -- seems to bear the observation out.


Morning Brief: Peace deal is off in Pakistan

Top Story

Pakistan's government abandoned its short-lived peace deal with the Taliban over control of the Swat Valley and has sent troops to fight militants in the area. Despite the fighting, the government still plans to enforce sharia law in the valley in order to rob the Taliban of a source of popular support. The government has urged residents to leave the valley as fighting intensifies.

The Taliban has been consolidating its position in Swat over the past few days and many doubt that the military has the stomach for the sustained fight that will be required to dislodge them. As one MP from the area put it, "The army understands the threat from the militants, but they are more permanently worried about India."

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari left for Washington today to discuss the situation in person with U.S. President Barack Obama. The U.S. has accused the Pakistani government of not doing enough to fight the Taliban, jeopardizing the U.S. military operation in neighboring Afghanistan.

U.S. Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar introduced a bill yesterday to triple nonmilitary aid to Pakistan.


Middle East

  • Speaking at this week's AIPAC conference in Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was willing to begin peace talks immediately, but did not mention a Palestinian state.
  • A gunman killed 44 people at a wedding in southeast Turkey as part of a longstanding family blood feud.
  • The Iraqi government ruled out letting U.S. troops remain in Mosul past the scheduled withdrawal date.


  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dropped plans to attend this months NATO-RUSSIA summit over the expulsion of two Russian diplomats on espionage charges.
  • Georgia put down a military mutiny, which it has accused Russia of provoking.
  • Italian investigators are looking into the mafia's involvement in the country's lucrative wind power business.


  • Mexico has ended its five-day swine flu shutdown and some commercial life is returning to the country.
  • Mexico's drug violence has continued unabated during the swine flu scare.
  • U.S. government stress tests have found that 10 of 19 major U.S. banks require more capital.