Middle East

Killing in the Name
April 08, 2010

The following is adapted from a talk delivered at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., on March 19, 2010. One of the greatest ironies of the past decade's debates over political Islam has been that, on the whole, the most passionate and emphatic rejections of radical Islamism in this country came from President Bush and his supporters—that is, conservatives. This is peculiar because the various forms of radical Islamism represent the third major form of totalitarian ideology and politics in modern world history.

The Party Line
April 07, 2010

Russia and the Arabs: Behind the Scenes in the Middle East from the Cold War to the Present By Yevgeny Primakov Translated by Paul Gould (Basic Books, 418 pp., $29.95) Over the decades, many people in the West, and certainly most Israelis, came to view the Soviet Union and then Russia as a force for ill, if not evil, in the Middle East, and perhaps farther afield as well.

"Sanctions with bite," Said Hillary. But There Are No Teeth In The Bite. Just Mushy Old Gums. Go To A Periodontist.
March 25, 2010

Hillary Clinton told the AIPAC conference this past Monday that, after fifteen months of his presidency, President Obama was about to launch, with our allies, "sanctions with bite." I commented on this earlier in the week. But a top front-page dispatch in this morning's Wall Street Journal tells us just how little pain Iran would incur when the political psychodrama finally unfolds at the Security Council.

Other Than Apartments In Jerusalem, What Else Is Going On In The Middle East?
March 22, 2010

Ban Ki-moon is the secretary general of the United Nations. The world is in pretty good shape. This is why he can spend so much of his time relieving the pain of the Arabs of Palestine, who are (if you don’t know already) the only people who suffer from their neighbors. The other Arabs probably suffer from their local overlords. But most of this is kept hush-hush, maybe because Barack Obama wants to have nice relations with them. Mr. Ban certainly wants to have good ties with them.

I Know I Am Harping On The President’s Israel Policy. But That’s Exactly What I Should Be Doing And What I Aim To Do.
March 19, 2010

Frankly, it’s a little bit embarrassing to be citing the Commentary crowd so often. But the fact is that the other powerful venues which seem to understand that the Palestinians do not really want peace--or act as if they don’t--are few and far between. Yes, there is the Washington Post, where Jackson Diehl, Charles Krauthammer, and Chuck Lane analyze what everyone can (but most refuse to) see or describe. Then, of course, there are the editorials, the collective voice of the Post, which strike an independent voice free of Arabisant cant and America bashing.

Housing Bust
March 19, 2010

You do not need insider information to know that Hillary Clinton threw a hissy fit at Bibi Netanyahu last Friday morning. And you don’t need that kind of information to know that she was sent out to do this little job by her boss.

Juan Cole's Mania
March 18, 2010

One of the odd things about people with very left-wing views on the Middle East is that they're obsessed with the political influence of American Jews yet almost completely unfamiliar with the actual beliefs of the subject of their obsession.

The Crisis
March 16, 2010

JERUSALEM—Suddenly, my city feels again like a war zone. Since the suicide bombings ended in 2005, life in Jerusalem has been for the most part relatively calm. The worst disruptions have been the traffic jams resulting from construction of a light rail, just like in a normal city.

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.

A Responding Sensibility
March 03, 2010

Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks Edited by Daniel Esterman (Getty Research Institute, 243 pp., $39.95)   I. Meyer Schapiro Abroad is an astonishing book. It consists of seemingly commonplace materials--the love letters that a graduate student wrote while traveling to work on his dissertation, plus a selection of sheets from his research notebooks. Yet taken together these pages present something extraordinary and nearly unique: an intensely evocative account of the process and the experience of historical discovery.

Pages