Knowledge Gap
April 30, 2007

Maybe it was a slip of the tongue. But, when Nancy Pelosi confessed last year that she felt "sad" about President Bush's claims that Al Qaeda operates in Iraq, she seemed to be disputing what every American soldier in Iraq, every Al Qaeda operative, and anyone who reads a newspaper already knew to be true. (When I questioned him about Pelosi's assertion, a U.S. officer in Ramadi responded, incredulously, that Al Qaeda had just held a parade in his sector.) Perhaps the House speaker was alluding to the discredited claim that Al Qaeda operated in Iraq before the war. Perhaps.

The Democrats' Disgusting Response
April 30, 2007

This is bad news for Democrats, very bad news. It is also very bad news for Al Qaeda. Anbar is about a third the land mass of Iraq. It abuts Syria to its northwest and Saudi Arabia to its southwest. Al Qaeda's interest in dominating Anbar was, first, its ambitions with reference to who rules and what happens to this second neighbor. As everybody knows, the monarchy is the targeted objective of the Islamic militia, Muslim Murder Incorporated. Its other imperative, a goal it assumed would not be especially burdensome to achieve, was to take over the province primarily inhabited by Sunni.

The Wrong Surge
February 19, 2007

  Ramadi, Iraq—It’s the second week of December, yet apart from a palm tree strung with Christmas lights outside the headquarters of the First Armored Division’s First Brigade Combat Team (1-1 AD), Ramadi shows no trace of the season. But, at the nearby house of Sheik Abdul Sattar, nothing can interrupt the festive spirit— or the sheik. Waving a lit cigarette, the former Al Qaeda ally has been advertising his fealty to the American cause for nearly an hour now.

Al Qaeda In Iraq
February 06, 2007

It's obvious that not all Sunnis are jihadis, and not all Sunnis are Al Qaeda supporters, not by a long shot. And don't accuse me of saying that they are. But since Al Qaeda remains a real force in the world (see Peter Bergen's recent important TNR article "Al Qaeda on the March"), I thought you'd might want to read a translation, produced by MEMRI, of a recording by Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, Al Qaeda's main functionary in Iraq. God knows, even the sternest of Sunnis must be terrified by this stuff--and I'll bet they are.

The New Hegemon
December 18, 2006

Vali Nasr on life under a nuclear Iran.

Reyes Errs
December 12, 2006

This is really, really disturbing: Silvestre Reyes, soon to be the next House Intelligence Committee chair, flubbed a foreign policy quiz from Congressional Quarterly ... and flubbed it badly:   Is al Qaeda a Sunni organization, or Shi'ite? The question proved nettlesome for Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, incoming Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "Predominantly -- probably Shi'ite," he said.

The Case for Fear
December 11, 2006

Overblown: How Politicians And The Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, And Why We Believe Them By John Mueller (Free Press, 259 pp., $25) What's Wrong With Terrorism? By Robert E. Goodin (Polity, 246 pp., $59.95) In 1995, the political scientist Aaron Wildavsky published a provocative book under the title But Is It True? Wildavsky's central claim was that many environmental risks are ridiculously exaggerated. In his view, governments often devote substantial resources to trivial or even nonexistent problems.

Crush the Sunnis
November 27, 2006

U.S. troops must leave Iraq--but not just yet, and not in the manner many Democrats have suggested. Islamists in general, and Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in particular, are always pointing to past U.S. military retreats--Vietnam in 1975, Lebanon in 1984, Somalia in 1994--as evidence that the American will to wage war invariably collapses as conflicts drag on. As a result, retreating from Iraq now would simply encourage Islamists to attack U.S.

Admit It's Over
November 27, 2006

Americans tend to think we can achieve almost any goal if we just expend more resources and try a bit harder. That spirit has built the greatest nation in history, but it may be dooming Iraq. As the head of the British Army recently noted, the very presence of large numbers of foreign combat troops is the source of much of the violence and instability. Our efforts, then, are merely postponing the day when Iraqis find their way to something approaching normalcy. Only withdrawal offers a realistic path forward. Too often in the Iraq debate, we have let intuition, slogans, and appealing thoughts

Force Everyone to the Table
November 27, 2006

It's time to make a virtue of necessity in Iraq. The country is sliding into full-blown civil war. The government is weak and getting weaker by the day; it also shows little willingness to make the minimum commitments necessary for stability--amending the constitution to guarantee Sunnis their share of national oil revenue, allowing lower-level Baathist officials to be rehabilitated, and disarming the militias. The Bush administration and many Democrats have been strenuously resisting these conclusions. But they may, in fact, be our most valuable diplomatic asset. If we accept this reality and