Middle East

Move Assad
June 25, 2010

The Obama administration has signaled in word and deed that a policy change is in the offing, a change that would accommodate the Syrian regime and normalize relations with it. The notion of autocracy as a guarantor of stability is back in vogue after the Bush years, and so the policy is being bolstered by a chorus of analysts and academics. The Syrian regime, the thinking goes, is as good as it gets for helping to keep simmering regional tensions under a tight lid. But this change would be a bit of a gamble.

Helen Thomas Has Many Comrades, Mostly Enthusiasts For The Palestinian Cause
June 23, 2010

Helen Thomas is not alone in her belief that the Jews should leave Israel and “go home,” as this dispatch from MEMRI demonstrates: Special Dispatch|3052| June 23, 2010, MEMRI Yasser Qashlaq, a Lebanese Flotilla Organizer, on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV: I Hope Our Ships Will 'Carry These Dregs of European Garbage Back to Their Own Countries' From Israel Following are excerpts from an interview with Palestinian-Lebanese journalist and head of Free Palestine Movement Yasser Qashlaq; the interview aired on Al-Manar TV on June 18, 2010.  According to Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly, Qashlaq is "the main don

Imagine (With Apologies to John Lennon)
June 23, 2010

For the sake of argument, imagine, if you can, an American foreign policy based on interest alone. To begin with, to use the current Wall Street phrase, it would need to overweight Latin America and underweight the Middle East. For whether the Obama administration believes it or not (in fairness, they are no worse than their predecessors, though they are no better either), crises are brewing in Latin America that pose potentially greater threats to the United States than those posed by Al Qaeda.

A Response to Michael Kazin
June 22, 2010

Sometimes Michael Kazin’s reasonableness disguises an apologetic lack of argument. His little reflection on my piece is a small anthology of the president’s foreign policy shibboleths. Let us begin with Iran. “They hail the democratic insurgents in Iran but do not propose an intervention that would destroy their movement and many of their lives.” Who, precisely, is proposing such an intervention? Certainly not I.

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.

June 21, 2010

I cannot pinpoint the precise moment in time when the transformation kicked in, the shift from the occasional one-night stand with someone I thought of as a vapid twit into a torrid love affair of passionate tweets. But I remember the circumstance. I was drunk, quite drunk. As is my habit when I am drunk, I assaulted the kitchen: whipped cream out of the can, smoked mussels packed in what appeared to be high-viscosity motor oil, several substantial fistfuls of Cheez-Its.

Obama: The "Astonishing Progress" of Dubai. Once Unbelievably Wealthy, Now Just A Crooked Little Emirate.
June 19, 2010

You may recall that, during the Bush presidency, Dubai World, a flagship corporate asset of the emir and his kin, had been discovered servicing and actually owning some U.S. ports on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. You will not be surprised that I wrote against this. Or that Tom Friedman wrote for it. Frankly, I didn't trust the emirate to serve as guardian to the ships going in and out of the docking facilities or, more generally, to patrol sensitive entry points to great harbor cities like New York, Baltimore, Miami and 19 other municipal areas.

Homeward Bound
June 19, 2010

The lady has been an old crone for more than half a century. So it was inevitable that some people in the profession would feel sympathy for Helen Thomas, even in her wicked quintessence. And not only merciful to her person but concerned for her lost job. Yes, Hearst pushed her, but Thomas, intuitively sensing that she would no longer be deferred to by the president or the press corps, went gently. Her wacky game was up. But this is not comedy. And Thomas’s answer to a random question—from a rabbi, it is true—about her current thoughts on Israel were deadly serious.

Are You Sick Of Reading News From Iran? I Am Not. I’ll Share Mine With You.
June 18, 2010

MEMRI is the most authoritative source on news from the western Maghreb to Pakistan, concentrating on the Middle East and western Asia. It publishes a daily blog on Iran. Here is today’s: Iran - June 18, 2010                The following is research published today from the MEMRI Iran Studies Project (www.memri.org/content/en/country.htm?country=iran), including reports from the Special Dispatch Series, the MEMRI TV Project, and the MEMRI Iran Blog. Special Dispatch No. 3043 – Iran/Lantos Archives on Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial/U.S.

Andrew Sullivan's Binary Thinking
June 14, 2010

Last week I expressed some frustration that so many critics on my left insist upon mischaracterizing my beliefs on the Middle East. Andrew Sullivan replies by... mischaracterizing my beliefs on the Middle East. He concludes that my "bottom line is still that of a neocon Likudnik." He reaches that conclusion through a series of erroneous inferences. I'll go through his points one by one: 1.