March 31, 2011
The public uprisings spreading like wildfire from Tunisia to the Persian Gulf have been referred to collectively as the “Arab Spring.” But in fact, as the Obama administration crafts its policy responses, it should strive to avoid this unifying narrative, lest it obscure the unique challenges faced by each country, as well as the distinctive ramifications that each uprising has for U.S. interests.
Sphinx, Lies, and Audiotape
March 26, 2011
Cairo, Egypt -- On a hot July evening this past summer, toward the end of our interview, Aref Desouki, vice-chair of a faction of the liberal Ghad Party, suddenly got defensive. After dodging questions about Egyptian State Security’s infiltration of his party, the bespectacled, cane-carrying mathematics professor wanted to emphasize that political conspiracies aren’t unique to Egypt. “You are controlled in the U.S. by an underground government,” he said, completely seriously. “A secret government that is related to the Zionists and the Jewish-Christian Zionists.
How The New Yorker Supported The Iraq War
March 04, 2011
Current Biography's feature on Rick Hertzberg covers mostly familiar (to me) ground. But this recounting of the magazine's debate over the Iraq War seems pretty interesting: A week before the start of the war with Iraq--which the administration claimed had so-called weapons of mass destruction--Hertzberg wrote for the New Yorker (March 17, 2003), "Both among those who, on balance, support the coming war and among those who, on balance, oppose it are a great many who hold their views in fear and trembling, haunted by the suspicion that the other side might be right after all. . . .
Should the CIA Turn Against Pakistan's Spies?
December 26, 2010
The recent chief-of-station (COS) cover-shredding brouhaha between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate marks an ironic and possibly important shift in the historic affection that Langley has had for Pakistan’s premiere intelligence service.
Wikileaks and the Cyberwars to Come
December 14, 2010
The childish panic that has swept the policy establishment over the past few weeks over the Wikileaks revelations themselves will soon subside.
December 08, 2010
It is difficult, in these partisan times, to find any common ground in the debate over U.S. counterterrorism policy. But, on one matter, there seems to be almost uniform agreement: that President Obama has largely continued President Bush’s security policies.
Don't Mess With Yemen
November 04, 2010
Not so long ago, few Americans, very much including policy wonks and military officers, knew anything about Yemen. Government officials couldn’t even find it on a map, though it was right there, sprawling across the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yet over the past year or so, a flood of reports were splashed across America's front pages, cautioning that Yemen was on the verge of being transformed into the next Afghanistan—a place where Al Qaeda could live, train, even thrive and plot with impunity. On Christmas day 2009, a Yemeni trained terrorist tried to detonate a U.S.
Yes, This Was Another Instance of Muslim Terror...And It Was Directed At Americans, At American Jews, In Fact.
October 30, 2010
The Obama administration has acted with dispatch in dealing with this last episode of Al Qaeda terror. No equivocations, no hesitations. In fact, the president pointedly indicated who were the targets of these two quite sophisticated explosive devices. One of the devices, at least, contained two pounds of PETN, a cousin of nitroglycerin, the same material used by Richard Reid in his attempt to bring down an American Airlines flight and by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his Christmas morning Northwest Air venture. But this was no underwear job.
Cut Off Aid to Pakistan
October 08, 2010
The entertainment world teems with bizarre relationships that thrill tabloid writers everywhere—think Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, Larry King and his wives and the sisters of Larry King’s wives. In the world of statecraft, though, such odd pairings tend to be rare. Nations typically take a cold, hard look at shared priorities and interests before banding together in an alliance. Again, normally, but not always: danger and delusion, in particular, often create strange bedfellows. The U.S.
September 20, 2010
The most durable myth in the Middle East is: "It's Palestine, stupid." It lies at the heart of Barack Obama's Middle East diplomacy, which is why the president has been pummeling the Israelis and pushing the Palestinians to resume talks. According to this myth, the most urgent problem is not the Iranian bomb or Syrian ambitions. It is not Egypt, once an anchor of stability and now slipping into precarious irrelevance. It is not Iraq, which is tottering between occupation and anarchy. It is not Al Qaeda in Yemen, the return of the Taliban, or the ticking time bomb that is Pakistan.