Michael Crowley

The swap--1,000 Palestinians for the young Israeli soldier captured in 2006 could be a minor breakthrough in the intractable Gaza standoff--and also support for the recent claim that the two sides have been secretly talking.

Karzai 1, Holbrooke 0

Is someone from the Pentagon taking a shot at Holbrooke in that WashPost story on Obama's "reset" with Karzai that Jason linked? Note this: "We've been treating Karzai like [Slobodan] Milosevic," a senior Pentagon official said, referring to the former Bosnian Serb* leader whom Holbrooke pressured into accepting a peace treaty in the 1990s. "That's not a model that will work in Afghanistan." Who played the critical role in dragging Milosevic to a peace agreement? Holbrooke.

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As Obama ratchets up the rhetoric against a dithering (heh) Iran, an opposition leader offers this advice: The international spokesman for Iran's main opposition movement called for President Barack Obama to increase his public support for Iranian democrats and significantly intensify financial pressure on Tehran's elite military unit, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Unfortunately, the spokesman thinks the regime is incapable of cutting a deal with the West over its nuclear program, because that program is fundamental to its very survival.

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Well, not exactly. Ben Smith blogs my tweet about dining two tables away from the newest Justice at the modest but nice ($20 entrees), Brooklyn restaurant Po last night. Which is not a shocker, as Sotomayor once lived in the surrounding Carroll Gardens neighborhood. She was eating with two dignified-looking women perhaps in their mid-to-late fifties--and forgot her purse, which her security detail returned for about half an hour later. For what it's worth, after nearly eighteen months in New York I've had disappointingly few celebrity sightings.

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In an interview, Abbas says they're discussing a Palestinian state with temporary borders. Hamas is denying it. But if the talks were secret, that's to be expected.  The claim comes, perhaps not coincidentally, a few days after a senior Israeli general spoke in notably positive terms about how Hamas has nearly halted rocket attacks from Gaza, and also restrained other Palestinian militants of late.

The NYT has the scoop. For an explanation of what the whole Rudy boomlet may have been about, check out the piece I wrote about Giuliani for New York magazine last month. The Times story linked here mentions recent talk that Rudy could challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. But I doubt it. From my NY mag story: Even though a recent poll had Giuliani beating [Gillibrand] by nine points, Giuliani laughs off the idea. "My value is in running things," he told me.

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The Washington Post writes today about the limits of Obama's biography in foreign policy. The paper's story notes that Obama talked extensively about his biography and personal experiences in Asia, then asks: But is his biography-as-diplomacy approach beginning to show its limits? Obama does not fly home with any big breakthroughs or any evidence that he has forged stronger personal ties with regional leaders.

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I haven't said much about Obama's China visit trip, in part because I'm no expert on Sino-American policy. But what Peter Beinart says here rings quite true for me: So it’s all well and good for the Obama administration to pay more attention to China. But the more attention the activist left and right pays, the harder it will be for Team Obama to come to terms with the new limits of American power. Try convincing the tea-bag crowd that the U.S. should cut its greenhouse gasses more than China does.

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An tricky difference of opinion on how to deal with Afghanistan's massive opium trade: The U.S. does not want to address the problem of drug production in Afghanistan, said Russia's anti-narcotics chief after talks with U.S. Special Envoy for AfPak Richard Holbrooke. "My meeting with Holbrooke unfortunately confirmed our fears that they are not prepared to destroy the production of drugs in Afghanistan," Viktor Ivanov, head of the Federal Narcotics Control Service, told Russian journalists on Tuesday, hours after Mr. Holbrooke left Moscow for Kabul after one-day consultations. Mr.

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As I argue in my recent print story on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the prevailing view in Washington foreign policy circles is that Gates, as an anti-Soviet hardliner at the CIA in the late 1980s, misread the import of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and failed to see the USSR's collapse coming. But here's a dissenting view, via email, from Andrew Hamilton, a former national security council staffer, among other government posts, as well as a longtime writer on foreign policy issues (who now writes editorials for the Chaleston, S.C., Post and Courier): Michael Crowley’s engaging portray

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