Middle East

The Weakest Strongman
January 11, 2012

Alexei Slapovsky’s 2010 novel, March on the Kremlin, opens with a young poet being accidentally killed by a policeman. Not knowing whom to blame and what to do, the poet’s mother picks up the body and, cradling her dead son in her arms, walks almost unconsciously toward the Kremlin. Her son’s friends trail close behind. Across the city, just as the mother is starting her long trek in pursuit of justice, an aging drunkard decides that his brother, who died the previous night, deserves to be interred by the Kremlin walls. So he, too, heads toward the Kremlin.

Iraq Is a Mess. But Leaving Was the Right Call.
December 23, 2011

Let us stipulate some ugly facts up front. Iraq remains a weak state. The political institutions are—charitably—immature. The business climate is not overly attractive and corruption is endemic. Were it not for oil, there would be no real economy. There is a serious terrorism problem. Relationships with all the neighboring states are problematic. Sectarian divides remain tense, with some key fault lines unresolved. The country’s armed forces remain incapable of defending its international borders.

Art Director Picks: TNR's Best Art Work in 2011
December 21, 2011

Here at The New Republic, we spend a lot of time thinking about words. But a great magazine isn't just a collection of articles; it's a visual product. Which is why we're lucky that our art director, Joe Heroun, and his partner Christine Car, are brilliant at transforming nascent, nebulous ideas or fully polished pieces into visually compelling images, often at a moment’s notice. Here, accompanied by Joe’s words, are some of his favorite images from 2011. February 17 Cover A Dubya cover in the new post-Bush era called for something unusual.

Romney's Underappreciated Pen Pal
December 13, 2011

Much has been made of how brazenly the Washington Post's conservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin, has been favoring Mitt Romney and disparaging his GOP rivals, to the point where she compromised her exceedingly staunch pro-Israel stance to chide Newt Gingrich for being excessively anti-Palestinian in his recent remarks on the Middle East.

What Israelis Hear When Obama Officials Talk About Iran
December 07, 2011

Over the weekend I had the privilege of sitting in on the 8th annual Saban Forum, a high-level, Brookings-sponsored dialogue between Israeli and American officials (current and former) along with journalists, intellectuals, and representatives from other countries in the Middle East.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Shade and Dazzle
November 09, 2011

You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo John Huston: Courage and ArtBy Jeffrey Meyers (Crown Archetype, 475 pp., $30)  Guantánamo has become a dreadful word, signifying a morass of military, legal, political, diplomatic, and humanitarian complications.

Did We Lose in Iraq? No, and Here’s Why.
October 28, 2011

President Barack Obama has announced that nearly all American soldiers will be home from Iraq by the end of the year. Despite the fact that Iran, as the Middle East’s most serious would-be hegemon, will benefit more than any other country from our regional drawdown, the American and Iraqi governments wish to go their own separate ways. The president has a campaign promise to keep. Most Americans are tired of sending their money, their sons, and even their daughters to Iraq, and most who haven’t spend money or blood are tired of hearing about it.

Thomson: ‘Homeland,’ a Clever, Confident, and Cruel New Show That Trades in Paranoia
October 25, 2011

As I write, I have seen only the first three episodes of “Homeland,” and I am mindful that the credit sequence every week contains a couple of shots of Louis Armstrong from around 1930, a detail that has not yet figured in what you’d have to call the narrative.

This Should Be the Beginning, Not the End, of Israel’s Negotiations With Hamas
October 24, 2011

For over a quarter of a century Prime Minister Netanyahu had promised, boldly and unequivocally, both in writing and in speech, that he would never make any concessions to terrorists. Now, in one fell swoop, with the negotiated release of Gilad Shalit, all that is gone. The Prime Minister himself cast it as a momentous choice, an instance of decisive and historic leadership. But the reason Netanyahu that gave for his decision, namely that "circumstances had changed", betrays considerably more anxiety.

Arab Spring, My Foot
October 06, 2011

Or, better yet, “my ass.” The Arab Spring has been with us for nearly three quarters of a year. This is not a long time as history goes. But the annual flowers of the spare land have long ago vanished into the crude, mostly gritty sand that is the Middle East. It’s not, though, as if it is at all back to “normal” in the Arab world. And, frankly, we haven’t the slightest about what normal in the Arab world is or will be. The Muslims and the Jews and the increasingly scarce but differentiated Christians who constituted the region lived (and live) recreant lives.

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