Middle East

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.

Response To Andrew Sullivan
February 26, 2010

Andrew Sullivan has a lengthy reply to my post, which categorically stated that he’s not an anti-Semite, but which also took sharp issue with his views on the Middle East. I truly regret that my colleague impugned Andrew’s motives. I like Andrew a great deal, and like him I believe in debating politics –sharply, at times – without impinging on friendships. My basic take is that Andrew was a simplistic supporter of Israel and has become a simplistic critic. In response, he argues that world events have changed his mind.

Iran Contrarians
February 26, 2010

Say what you want about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but “he knows how to work a room.” So claims Flynt Leverett, the contrarian Iran analyst who, with his wife Hillary Mann Leverett, paid a visit to the Iranian president in New York City last fall. During the sit-down at Manhattan’s InterContinental Barclay hotel with a group of invited academics, foreign policy professionals, and other Iranophiles, the Leveretts marveled at Ahmadinejad’s attention to detail as the Iranian took copious notes and strove to pronounce their unfamiliar names correctly. “He addresses every person by name.

Obama Is A Masochist: He Is Courting Another Disenchantment, This Time In Syria
February 19, 2010

Really, I don’t care if there is an American ambassador in Damascus. It’s true, given the environment, that he might be shot by terrorists. But, otherwise, why not? We had U.S. diplomats in Tokyo, Berlin and Rome until just after Pearl Harbor. Of course, they did no good. But probably, they also did no harm—except prolonging the illusion that America was at peace with the host countries.  Why doesn't the administration just say that we are returning to our embassy in Syria because Syria is a player in the Middle East?

My Rodney King Moment
February 18, 2010

A photo of President Obama, with his feet on the desk in the Oval Office while speaking to advisers, is making the right-wing email rounds, along with outraged commentary about Obama's "attitude": Wonkette waxes sarcastic: Can you believe this guy? Our queen gave us this holy desk back when his people were still slaves or whatever, and now he’s putting his feet on it? Oh, the wingnuts.

Rinse, Wash, Repeat
February 14, 2010

I don’t think anyone would mistake me for a big fan of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main (as they put it) “pro-Israel” lobby in Washington. The only organization of that kind that I’ve ever given money to is Americans for Peace Now. And I have defended critics of AIPAC, including Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of The Israel Lobby, from charges of anti-Semitism. But I think Walt and Mearsheimer have been dead wrong in trying to blame the Israel lobby or the Israeli government for America’s invasion of Iraq.

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