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.
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
Deal With the Sunnis
November 27, 2006
The United States is in a quagmire in Iraq because it rushed to war, and then to occupation, without a plan or even a realistic assessment. We must not exit Iraq in the same blind fashion. We need a plan to stabilize Iraq politically before we exit. Any such plan must have numerous military, economic, and political dimensions. But a key feature should be to split up the Sunni Arab insurgency. This insurgency is already deeply divided between secular (nationalist, Baathist) and religious elements and--within the latter--between Islamists focused on Iraq and hardcore utopian revolutionaries (Sal
Novel Approach: Counterterrorism as Pulp
November 06, 2006
The year is 2020. A young Muslim preacher has been proclaimed thenew caliph, attracting a worldwide following that includes thedaughter of an American senator. Civil wars and insurgencies ragethroughout the Muslim world and beyond. Muslim athletes at theOlympics declare loyalty to the caliphate over their own nations.Histories of previous caliphates soar on Amazon's best- sellerlist. A dystopian novel's potboiler plot? Not exactly. The scenario comesfrom a global trends estimate by the National Intelligence Council,a government advisory group.