North Of The Litani

When I woke up this morning, I found on my-email a letter from Noah Pollak, an assistant editor of Azure at the Shalem Institute in Jerusalem. He takes issue --very convincingly, at that--with my hypotheses as to why Hezbollah is concentrating its mischief north of the Litani River. Here is his response to my perhaps soft conclusions. You write, 'My guess is that it will be Hezbollah, not against Israel but against the other Lebanese.


Defeating Victory

Here's another and persuasive view of the cease-fire in last summer's war between Hezbollah and Israel. "The cease-fire acted as a life jacket for the organization [at the end of the Second Lebanon War]." According to the Jerusalem Post, the Hezbullah officer told Israel's Channel 10 that Hezbullah gunmen would have surrendered if the fighting last summer had continued for another ten days. He also stated that when the Hezbollah "gunmen relocated to cities and villages, they knew innocent civilians would be hurt as a consequence."

Last summer, during the war with Israel, Hezbollah's Al Manarsatellite TV channel ran an advertisement featuring Reem Haidar, anattractive Lebanese woman with a special request for Hezbollahleader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah. "I want his cloak that he sweatedin while he was defending me, my children, my sisters, and myland," said Haidar, with a toss of her highlighted hair, as martialmusic played in the background. "I want it so that I can rub someof its sweat on myself and my children.


The New Hegemon

Vali Nasr on life under a nuclear Iran.


Ally with the Sunnis

The war in Iraq is lost--at least the original one, which was to make the place and then all of Arabia safe through democracy. The "democratic peace"--the idea that only despots make war while democracies are basically pacific--is as old as the republic itself. But not even Woodrow Wilson, the most fervent believer in the idea, went to war against Wilhelmine Germany in 1917 for the sake of democracy. That was the ideological icing on a power-political cake. The Kaiser's U-boats were sinking U.S.


It's time to make a virtue of necessity in Iraq. The country is sliding into full-blown civil war. The government is weak and getting weaker by the day; it also shows little willingness to make the minimum commitments necessary for stability--amending the constitution to guarantee Sunnis their share of national oil revenue, allowing lower-level Baathist officials to be rehabilitated, and disarming the militias. The Bush administration and many Democrats have been strenuously resisting these conclusions. But they may, in fact, be our most valuable diplomatic asset. If we accept this reality and


The Politics Of Lebanon

The viperous politics of Lebanon continues well, being viperous. The prime minister of the country, Fuad Siniora, who basically stood by Hezbollah even though it had brought war and ruin to his country, has now been rewarded for his good-will towards the terror camp. Or was it just stupidity?


"Olmert, we forgive you," read an unsigned pre-Yom Kippur ad, placed in the newspaper Maariv by the amorphous movement to oust Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "We forgive you for the first defeat in war since the founding of the state of Israel. We forgive you for the penetration of corruption into government. We forgive you for the confused leadership. We forgive you because the job is simply too big for you." Israelis have seldom been kind to their prime ministers, even the most beloved.


A Triumph For Hezbollah

The fact is that nobody really paid much attention to the details of the Lebanese cease-fire, not even the Israelis (this is another grievance the public has with the Olmert government, and a just grievance it is), and not the Americans (certainly not Condi Rice). Hezbollah did not really need to scrutinize the terms of the agreement since it never had any attention of adhering to them in the first place. In any case, it was not among the negotiating parties, since that would have undercut the authority of the Lebanese government, which, alas, hardly exists.


Clerical Era

Shortly after I arrived in Damascus this summer, I dropped by the offices of Dr. Mohammed Al Habash, one of Syria’s leading religious scholars, to interview him about the rise of Islam in his country. But the Danes beat me to him. Habash’s Islamic Studies Center was hosting the first official Danish delegation to travel to Syria since a mob, infuriated by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet in a Danish newspaper, had attacked and burned the Danish Embassy in February.