Camp David

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr has announced a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. It's good news that the fighting will stop. But aside from the immediate cessation of hostilities there's little to cheer about. Here are three reasons why in the absence of considerable outside intervention, it's only a matter of time until war breaks out again. A comprehensive peace agreement is not in sight: Peace in the former Palestine rests not only on a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but on a comprehensive agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a Muslim Brotherhood delegation in Washington last week to better understand how the Islamist group will govern Egypt. It was a noble attempt at promoting intercultural political dialogue—an engagement for which many in the American policy community, as well as academia, have long advocated. Yet the Brotherhood came to Washington with an agenda of its own: selling itself as a “moderate” organization to a highly skeptical American public.

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Among the head-bursting revelations in Dick Cheney’s new book is the news that the former Vice President’s Labrador Retriever, Dave, once got into big trouble for an unprovoked attack. The incident in question took place at Camp David, where the canine companions of the president and vice president were accompanying their masters on retreat.

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Forget Negotiations

The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is certainly bad news for peace. But this does not mean it is bad news as such. Because the most urgent need for the future survival of both Israel and Palestine is not peace. It is partition. And the reconciliation may actually be good news for the prospect of partition. It is, by now, abundantly clear that the two sides of the conflict are unable to reach a peace accord.

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Overstated

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.

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There was a piece in Politico last week that did an impressive job of simultaneously capturing and embodying why so much of America thinks our political system sucks. The headline read “Elite Donors Dodge the DNC,” and the gist was that the Obama administration has so badly bungled the care and feeding of big-money contributors that fat cat Dems aren’t flocking to write their party big checks at the same rate rich Republicans did when the Bushies ran this town.

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Barack Obama convened his first official summit before he was even elected president. In October 2008, then-candidate Obama gathered a gaggle of business and political heavyweights--Paul Volcker, Eric Schmidt, Jennifer Granholm, Bill Richardson, etc.--in a Florida community college gymnasium for what his campaign billed as the “Growing American Jobs Summit.” “No cheerleading,” Obama admonished the 1,700 people who packed into the sweltering gym expecting a campaign rally.

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The Third Intifada

The Palestinian territories are descending into chaos, but many in Washington seem unconcerned. The Palestinians in the West Bank have too much to lose from a new uprising, some are arguing, given the recent moderate improvements in their daily lives. Others assert that the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, trained under American supervision, will prevent the Palestinians from making the mistakes of 1987 and 2000. Yet the dynamics of Palestinian politics indicate that a third intifada is likely to erupt in the near future.

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Disengagement

The pun in the title of Israel Is Real, the new book by Rich Cohen, is silly but not meaningless. The problem of reality, and how to distinguish it from fantasy, fear, and hope, has been with the Zionist project since the very beginning.

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By November of last year, Pakistan, a nation hardly known for its stability, seemed primed to explode. After months of street protests against General Pervez Musharraf’s increasingly authoritarian rule, the Pakistani dictator had declared de facto martial law, allowing him to arrest thousands of political activists and sparking even greater unrest. Many young Pakistanis turned to extremist organizations, and suicide bombings spread from the Afghan border into once-serene cities like Islamabad and Lahore.

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