Dawn of the Revolt
July 15, 2009

May 23rd: Tehran's Azadi Indoor Stadium, 20 days before the election. The press had difficulty getting in the gates. "All full," the guards kept telling us. And full it was, overflowing in fact, for a Mir Hossein Mousavi campaign rally. Mousavi wasn't even there. Instead, the rally featured former President Mohammad Khatami and Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and the eager crowd numbered more than 20,000. I couldn't make my way to the VIP section, and I didn't want to.

Why Roos Over Nye For Japan?
May 27, 2009

For those wondering why Harvard political scientist Joe Nye--one said to be a "lock" for US Ambassador to Japan--was passed over for Silicon Valley CEO John Roos, Japan's Asahi reports: According to sources, members of Obama's Asia-Japan experts team and the president's closest aides made the final selection of ambassador candidate. The selection team considered sending a well-known politician, such as Walter Mondale, a former vice president and ambassador to Japan; an academic well versed in U.S.-Japan relations, such as Nye; or a political supporter or close friend to the president.

The Wrong Envoy To Syria?
March 04, 2009

I was surprised to see Jeffrey Feltman as one of the two envoys Obama is sending to Syria to begin talks with President Bashir Al-Asad. Feltman, currently the acting assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs (he is rumored to be keeping the job), was formerly the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, where he cultivated a staunchly anti-Syrian reputation. Hearing his name still reminds me of the banner that used to hang across downtown Beirut: "Topple the Feltman Government," it read--a reference to his staunch support for the pro-West and anti-Syrian March 14 coalition.

Holbrooke: Busy Bee
February 11, 2009

Today's State Department briefing included this update on his frenetic itinerary: Ambassador Holbrooke continued his visit in Pakistan. He visited tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan earlier today. He met with government and military officials, as well as leaders from civil society. In the tribal areas, Special Representative Holbrooke visited the Khyber Pass and the Bajaur Agency, where Pakistani security forces have been fighting insurgent extremists.

Too Much To Chew?
January 11, 2009

Dennis Ross is a highly capable diplomat (and frequent TNR contributor), so I was pleased to see that he'll be joining Obama's foreign policy team. But the scope of his brief gives me some pause. Ross has been given the title of ambassador at large, with a portfolio that apparently includes everything from Israel to Iran.

A Few Good Women
December 03, 2008

In the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama first distinguished himself in the area of foreign policy; criticizing an atrophied approach to international affairs in both parties, he promised a new approach to diplomacy and national security.

A Confused Kingdom
September 28, 2007

Last week, I wrote about The Hunting Party, a film that tried (and failed) to integrate geopolitics into a black comedy. This week, The Kingdom attempts the only slightly less daunting task of integrating geopolitics into an action film. (Rather see a movie that leaves out the geopolitics altogether? I'm afraid you have a fewfrustratingmonths ahead of you.) That The Kingdom manages, to at least some degree, to accomplish the feat is a tribute to its director, Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Rundown), who guides the film with poise and intelligence.

Primary Source

The full text of Joe Biden's opening statement at today's Petraeus-Crocker Senate hearing, after the jump: Six years ago this morning, agents of Al Qaeda attacked the United States of America and murdered 2,998 people. Please join me in a moment of silence for the victims of 9-11. [Moment of silence] Ambassador Crocker, General Petraeus: welcome.

A Magnificent Endorsement
July 17, 2007

Is this something to brag about? Well, Joseph Wilson, yes, Ambassador Joseph Wilson--one is not supposed to call oneself ambassador after ceasing to be one--has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. (Have you noticed, by the way, that she is no longer "Hillary Rodham Clinton?" Maybe she'll even start wearing dresses in her next remake). I wonder whether, having once been an ambassador, Wilson encourages headwaiters at fancy Washington restaurants to call him "Your Excellency." He certainly was called "Excellency" in Sao Tomé and Princípe, one country, two names.

Street Fighting Men
July 03, 2007

Islamabad--Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the strategist and brains behind the Taliban-inspired movement that has taken over the Pakistani capital in recent months, may have overplayed his hand. On June 23, just after midnight, a squad of Islamist vigilantes set out from Ghazi's Lal Masjid, or "Red Mosque," in the direction of a Chinese massage parlor across town.