Thoughts From Tehran
July 29, 2010
We were all dreamers then. When we overthrew the Shah, we thought a bright new age had dawned. Tyranny had been defeated and soon we would vanquish all the secularists, Westernizers, imperialists, and Zionists. Our glorious revolution would be the model for millions, not only in the Middle East but among Muslims everywhere. Islam would be restored to its rightful place at the center of people’s lives, and piety would replace politics. Some of us even imagined that all the prophecies of the Koran were about to come true. Such dreams.
David Cameron Has Been to Washington. He Got The Message...And Now He's Delivering It.
July 28, 2010
On Wednesday, The Independent announced that "Cameron uses Turkish visit to launch ferocious attack on Israel." The Guardian reports that he "likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to that of a 'prison camp'." Having just been to Washington, was Cameron doing a transmission job for Barack Obama? Probably not. This missive about Israel is surely not the one that Obama really wants to transmit now.
Unshackle the Troops
July 26, 2010
Many good people who have never fought in a war find something appealing in America’s willingness to take more casualties in order to spare innocent civilian lives. For those, like me, who have been in combat, the choices at hand look somewhat different. Consider the following likely scenario. A platoon of Marines is patrolling an area in Afghanistan. To avoid IEDs, the Marines stay off the roads and advance through a field. At the edge of the field is a row of huts. Suddenly, two Marines are hit. The Marines take cover, although there is little to protect them in the open field.
July 26, 2010
No soldier wants to be the last one to die in a war, goes the old saw. In Afghanistan, make that: No coalition member wants to be the last one to quit. And so, competitive withdrawal has practically begun. According to President Obama, the United States will start drawing down next year. Canada is preparing to exit in 2011. Poland is talking complete withdrawal by 2012. Britain wants to end it all by 2015. This is no way to win. It’s like a trainer announcing in round three that he will throw in the towel in round six.
Murder In Dubai: The Mossad
July 18, 2010
You may recall the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, actually the killing of al-Mabhouh, God rest his soul or, better yet, inshallah. The “victim” was a top man in Hamas whose personal achievements were plenty, mostly the taking of innocent human life. The Israelis had promised themselves to get him, and they did. No Palestinian murderer could be safe as long as the Mossad was permitted to forge passports. So, on the discovery of the corpus delicti and the suspicion that it was the Jews who’d done him in, everybody went bananas about the falsified travel documents.
How Obama Will Deal With Our Wayward Ally, Turkey
July 01, 2010
It’s a shock to see one of the pillars of American foreign policy start to disintegrate before our very eyes. That’s what seems to be happening to the relationship between the United States and Turkey, which policymakers in both countries have taken for granted for decades. I know it’s often said that formal alliances are losing their central place in international politics. If so, maybe the bad blood between Ankara and Washington is just part of a trend, something we wearily adjust to.
I’ve known Richard Cohen, the well-known and deservedly well-placed Washington Post columnist, for years. We’re certainly not close, and there has been a low-key ideological (and psychological) distance between us for years. I think some of his writings on the Palestinians are—let me be gentle—frightfully soft. I would guess that he probably thinks that some of my writings on the Palestinians are frightfully ferocious. But he is no enemy of Israel.
Sorry for the bad pun. But it's 1:30 a.m. Monday morning. Turkish political culture is now in tatters. Or, rather, its sensible political culture is in tatters. But the sensible Kemalists were no longer so sensible. They were corrupt, they were very authoritarian, they exported what some of them explicitly called their "surplus population" to Europe. These were mostly Kurds with Turkish passports. Now, some of them are called "Germans." But the reality is that many of them are internal Kurdish exiles.
Turkey Is Now The Key To Arab Politics. Beware: Built Up By Obama, Erdogan Is Playing The Wild Card
June 22, 2010
From the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Executive Director Robert Satloff comes this analysis: The Gaza Flotilla Incident: Impact on Three Key Arab Actors By Robert Satloff June 22, 2010 The Gaza flotilla episode pitted Israel versus Turkey, with Arabs as bystanders and observers. Yet reverberations of the incident have had a keen impact across Arab capitals. Egypt: Policy Adrift The country most negatively affected has been Egypt.
Better A Bad Press Than A Good Epitaph
June 13, 2010
Actually, the hysteria about the Israeli encounter with the Turkish goons has abated. And it has probably come to the attention of some reasonable people that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is working the seas not exactly for the interests of the Turks but for the Islamic crusade being led by the Iranian clerisy and secret police. I know little about Erdogan but something more about Turkey. The last century of its history is being betrayed in an avalanche of thuggish holiness. Its economy is not doing as bad as that of Greece. But just wait. Tourism is going down, down, down ...