Middle East

Maybe I’m Getting Paranoid … About Obama
January 26, 2010

I've just read the transcript of the president's remarks about Haiti, the ones he made on January 15. He noted that, in addition to assistance from the United States, significant aid had also come from "Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, among others." Am I missing another country that truly weighed in with truly consequential assistance? Ah, yes. There it is.

Frank Luntz On How To Pass A Climate Bill
January 21, 2010

For a long time, GOP pollster Frank Luntz was mainly known as the guy who wrote a 2002 memo advising the Bush administration to "make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate [about global warming]." So it was a little surprising to see him this morning at the National Press Club, teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund on a new set of poll findings about climate legislation.

Now the Tourists Arrive in Port-au-Prince
January 17, 2010

Today, it was Hillary Clinton who paid the sympathy call to Haiti, or actually to Haiti's president, René Préval. The secretary of state said she would stay at the airport only for a few hours in order not to be a burden in the city, where she uttered the usual platitudes. But the arrival of her airplane was clearly just another intrusion on the desperate work going on, since the Federal Aviation Authority, which is administering the field, had already been closed to inbound flights. This was the worst earthquake in Haiti in fully two centuries.

Jews Who Hate The Jews Who Hate Palin
January 08, 2010

The complaint of the Jewish Republican is a small but hardy feature of our political discourse. The complaint runs as follows: Jews are foolishly ignoring their self-interest by voting for Democrats on the basis of sentimental concerns (secularism, concern for the poor) rather than pursuing their true self interest (maximal hawkishness on the Middle East, low tax rates on the rich) as represented by the GOP. Occasionally these arguments take the form of gloating predictions that Jews will soon join other white ethnics in abandoning their hoary Democratic loyalties.

Shocked, Positively Shocked
January 01, 2010

The provost of University College, London, where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab studied for three years, said that he was "completely shocked" by the news of what the Christmas terrorist had tried to do.

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.

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