Department of State

The War On Terror And The Bush-Obama Presidency
April 06, 2010

I take it is a relief that, aside from its rhetorical pandering to the civil libertarian absolutists who can’t seem to grasp that Muslim terror networks are in a worldwide war with the United States and its remaining allies, the Obama administration is actually extending the life of the Bush presidency in its defense against jihad. Eli Lake, who is among the most discerning journalists on the intelligence beat, has written an analysis in Reason on where—or, rather, how little—the Obami have deviated from Bush guidelines. When it comes to the legal framework for confronting terrorism, President

Greek Tragedy
March 19, 2010

Shortly after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou took office last fall, he learned that he’d inherited a massive booby prize: a budget deficit that was twice the amount the previous government had disclosed. But, when Papandreou came clean and promised to address the problem, the financial markets reacted violently. Interest rates soared, adding billions in debt-service costs to an already dire budget picture.

What's Obama Up To In Israel?
March 16, 2010

Jeff Goldberg has the analytic scoop: I've been on the phone with many of the usual suspects (White House and otherwise), and I think it's fair to say that Obama is not trying to destroy America's relations with Israel; he's trying to organize Tzipi Livni's campaign for prime minister, or at least for her inclusion in a broad-based centrist government.  I'm not actually suggesting that the White House is directly meddling in internal Israeli politics, but it's clear to everyone -- at the White House, at the State Department, at Goldblog -- that no progress will be made on any front if

The Multitudinous Disasters Of The Obama Administration. Here: On Syria And Iran
March 08, 2010

I’ve written myself about the Obama administration’s more-than-flatfooted policies on Syria (here, here, and here) and Iran (here, here, and here). So I am particularly gratified when I find myself in alignment with Barry Rubin, a truly brainy scholar with a slight polemical touch. His latest analysis is below. Syria is a galling instance of the president’s obsessions ... and for several reasons. A weak country, both economically and militarily, its only possible political sway is to exacerbate the hatreds of its neighbors towards Israel.

George Mitchell Wants To Quit. Yipee!
February 26, 2010

That would make one less “special envoy” in the president’s service, which couldn’t be bad. According to Jack Khoury in Ha’aretz, the information came from “an Arab political source,” unidentified but published in Hadith a-Nass, a Nazareth-based daily (responsible, I’m told). Mitchell’s reason for wanting to quit are said to be two. One is that he believes “that certain elements within the State Department hold biased favor toward Israel.” Historically, this would be a brand-new departure in attitude for a bureaucracy that has always been more than a bit churlish towards the Jewish state.

Iran Contrarians
February 26, 2010

Say what you want about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but “he knows how to work a room.” So claims Flynt Leverett, the contrarian Iran analyst who, with his wife Hillary Mann Leverett, paid a visit to the Iranian president in New York City last fall. During the sit-down at Manhattan’s InterContinental Barclay hotel with a group of invited academics, foreign policy professionals, and other Iranophiles, the Leveretts marveled at Ahmadinejad’s attention to detail as the Iranian took copious notes and strove to pronounce their unfamiliar names correctly. “He addresses every person by name.

Browner, Kerry, and More Will Headline a TNR Event on Tuesday
and
February 19, 2010

And you should come, because we’ve put together a truly impressive lineup. Click here for more full details and email this address (events@tnr.com) to RSVP. Just as a thumbnail: It’ll take place at the National Press Club on Tuesday, February 23, from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. There will addresses by Carol Browner, the White House’s Director of Energy and Climate Change; Senator John Kerry; Representative Ed Markey; and Todd Stern, the State Department’s Special Envoy on Climate Change.

Eric Holder, Pathetic … And His Pathos Is Right There On The Front Page Of The Times.
February 15, 2010

Poor Eric Holder. The fact is that he is none too smart ... and none too versed in constitutional issues. Although Ronald Reagan did appoint him Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia! Ah, those were the days when Republican presidents appointed Democrats to judicial office and Democratic presidents appointed Republicans to same. Actually, aside from his graduation from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, "second rate" is what comes to mind when you hear Holder's name. Hey, Janet Reno wasn't so brainy either. Holder's mental equipment matters now more than ever.

There Will Be Oil
January 27, 2010

Last month marked a turning point in the United States-Iraq relationship. American influence is waning, while Iraq is taking steps to get on its feet economically. We suffered no combat deaths in December, and continue to reduce our presence, expecting to withdraw all combat troops by August. And Iraq concluded a major round of production deals with oil companies. This last development is a big deal.

COIN Toss
January 04, 2010

On the night of December 1, shortly after Barack Obama announced plans to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, retired Lt. Colonel John Nagl appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Maddow was dismayed by Obama’s new plan, which she called “massive escalation,” but, when she introduced Nagl, a counterinsurgency expert who has long called for a greater U.S. commitment to Afghanistan--even if it means raising taxes and expanding the military--she was surprisingly friendly.

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