Middle East

Eight Pieces, Really One: Iran, Israel's Military Doctrine, The President And One Dumb Jewish Woman, The Wages of Copenhagen, The Christmas Terrorist, We Should All Stop Talking About The Middle East
December 26, 2009

Jews usually go out to the movies on Christmas ... and then they go out to eat "Chinese." I've spent it writing. Below is my harvest. I wish you all good cheer. Here are the motifs of my writing day. Alas, none of them cheery. 1. THE REAL GRIM REAPER: HOLY DAY VICTIMS IN IRAQ AND PAKISTAN 2. COLD COMMON SENSE ABOUT IRAN FROM, MIRABILI DICTU, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" 3. A WISE EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTER: "WE SHOULD SHUT UP ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST" 4. A SOBER "TIMES" PIECE ON ISRAELI MILITARY DOCTRINE 5.

Against the Green
December 23, 2009

As President Obama arrives empty-handed at the end of his year-long attempt to persuade Iran to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program, a curious paradox has emerged. Even if intensified--and highly costly--sanctions were to force the regime to comply with Western demands, an agreement between Tehran and Washington would benefit one party above all: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the illegitimate government that he now leads.

Shaking Hands With the Man Who Killed Your Father
December 21, 2009

Geopolitical realities force Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to visit Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who probably orchestrated a massive car bomb that killed Hariri's father in 2005. The recent rise in Syrian influence would be less galling were Assad doing anything visible to advance the Middle East peace process--one common view holds that untangling the Syrian-Israeli border could be a crucial first step towards a broader paece--as this Sy Hersh opus suggested might happen.

Year One
December 15, 2009

When we endorsed Barack Obama, we held out hope that he might be a transformational president. That was clearly the way he viewed himself. He intended a profusion of reform legislation that would remake the U.S. economy. And that ambitious domestic program was to be replicated on the global stage. Just as he would create a new health care system, he would heal conflicts that had tormented humanity for decades, as well as build relations with longtime adversaries.

Making His Way
December 11, 2009

The Sun Lorber Films The Wedding Song Strand Releasing Act of God Zeitgeist Films   The pace is adagio, the temper contemplative, so it is all the more surprising that the subject is Emperor Hirohito of Japan during the brief period between Hiroshima and surrender. The Sun was made by the Russian director Alexander Sokurov, who is noted, among other reasons, for the slow tempo of his films. Except for his feature-length careering through the Hermitage in St. Petersburg (Russian Ark), he has often chosen to meditate on shots, making that meditation part of the picture’s progress.

The Great Satan Myth
December 08, 2009

The Iranian regime has never found itself more vulnerable. And, with this vulnerability, it has never leaned more heavily on its own narrative of history.

Will Iranian Sanctions Work?
December 08, 2009

With no signs of cooperation from Tehran and Obama's year-end deadline approaching, the administration is pushing for new sanctions against Iran starting in January. For a better understanding of the sanctions situation, check out these recent TNR pieces: In "Over a Barrel," David Makovsky and Ed Morse argue that the current sanctions being considered are unlikely to have much effect:   The only effective option for seriously limiting its gasoline imports is to impose a naval blockade on Iranian ports, which should only be undertaken, if needed, after proper and complete preparation.

What Israel Can Teach Us About Rebuilding an Economy
November 30, 2009

The wall between The Wall Street Journal’s news division and its editorial page makes for a lot of good reporting and a fair amount of cognitive dissonance as well. For example, the November 24 edition featured an article, tucked away on A14, about Israel’s response to the economic crisis. In it we learn that the Netanyahu government raised taxes, avoided traditional stimulus measures, and ruled out government bailouts for banks and bondholders.

Derisionist History
November 28, 2009

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations By Avi Shlaim (Verso, 392 pp., $34.95) Avi Shlaim burst upon the scene of Middle Eastern history in 1988, with the publication of Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Before that, as a young lecturer at Reading University in England, he had produced two books, British Foreign Secretaries Since 1945 (1977) and The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949 (1983), and several revealing essays on modern Middle Eastern historical issues in academic journals.

The Incredible Lightness of the U.S. Media
November 27, 2009

If you just read American newspapers, you might not know that financial markets around the world plunged over news that the government-owned Dubai World – upon which that emirate’s claim to economic (non-oil) leadership in the Middle East rests -- may be on the verge of collapse.  I followed the Dubai story in The Financial Times, which headlined it on its web page from the early morning yesterday. Today, they have a three page spread.

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