Many Libyans I’ve met in the past few months have told me that before their revolution, they felt no pride in telling outsiders where they came from. They understood that the rest of the world knew only one thing about their country—that it was ruled, depending one’s perspective, by a madman, a monster, or a clown. The foreign media were fascinated by Qaddafi’s image—his clothes, his female bodyguards, his tirades before the U.N.
The pictures of Muammar Qaddafi’s death have made me reflect, as they must have made many people reflect, on the equally gruesome images of Saddam’s death. Did Qaddafi himself think about Saddam, in those last minutes of his life? My question is speculative, but I do not think it is unreasonable. We do know whom Saddam was thinking about—if not at the moment of his execution, then certainly at his trial in Baghdad, when he came face to face with his impending fate.
Glancing over the invitations to briefings and rallies from organizations with names like the Iranian-American Community of Kansas, and the Iranian-American Community of North Texas—which include broad references to the "Iranian opposition" and looming "humanitarian catastrophes"—it's fair to assume that these organizations represent a broad set of issues that face Iranians living here in the United States and back in their native country. However, attending these events reveals that all of these groups have one primary, and rather narrow, aim: removing an organization known as the as the Muj
How Libya’s Energy Economy Can Avoid Iraq’s Mistakes
September 26, 2011
Since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in Tripoli, Saddam Hussein’s fall in Baghdad eight years ago and 1,800 miles away has framed much of the way many think about it. Global leaders, reporters, experts, and even Libyan officials have explicitly argued that Libya will not become another Iraq. This is particularly emphasized when addressing oil and natural gas, which not only dominate Libya’s economy but also are important to the global economy.
What the U.N. Can Do to Stop Getting Attacked by Terrorists
September 02, 2011
For years, the United Nations has taken pains to present itself to the world as an impartial, international institution dedicated to helping people around the world. But when the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram detonated a car bomb at the UN’s compound in Abuja, Nigeria, last Friday, killing 23 and wounding at least 75, it was a stark reminder that, no matter how hard the UN tries to be neutral, many, especially in the Muslim world, see it as a proxy of Western powers. Indeed, for many groups bent on wrecking havoc, the UN has become synonymous with the United States.
9/11 and the Case for American Humility
August 24, 2011
In 2001, Americans were convinced that the United States was the center of the world. It was exactly a decade after the official end of the cold war and the triumphant eviction of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine had described us two years earlier as a “hyper-power.” Beyond geopolitics, we were the source and the center of the forces of globalization: technology, finance, entrepreneurship, movies, music, fashion, and the mores of modernity. As our critics never tired of reminding us, we were deeply self-absorbed. September 11 intensified this view.
Do Ideas Matter?
August 24, 2011
I. MY ROLE ON September 11 was to be a reporter for The New Republic. I was in downtown Brooklyn, and from my rooftop I watched the first tower crumble, and then I ran downstairs to the street with pen and notebook and plunged into the crowds fleeing over the bridges. I spoke with one person after another, asking what they had seen. They told me. I compiled my report.
Letter From Libya: The Rebel Fleet Prepares For Its Final Battle
August 24, 2011
Off the coast of Misrata—On the dark blue sea of the Mediterranean, Libyan rebels are planning their final offensive to bring down Muammar Qaddafi. More than a hundred fighters set out from Benghazi Tuesday, transforming two tugboats into the official rebel fleet. The passengers are aware that Qaddafi’s military barracks have fallen to the opposition. The rebels, most of whom are observing the Ramadan fast, pass their time reading the Koran and quietly celebrating their victory.
The Libyan people are right to celebrate as their country’s benighted Muammar Qaddafi era comes to a definitive close, but the country’s new leadership should also not forget that its work is just beginning.
Five Things Obama Can (and Should) Do to Topple Assad
August 20, 2011
On Thursday, President Obama issued a long overdue statement calling for regime change in Syria, declaring that the “time has come for President Bashar Assad to step aside.” But will that call to action amount to anything in practice? The gestures that Obama has made, including ending the U.S. import of Syrian petroleum products—totaling some 6,000 barrels per day—are little more than symbolic changes of policy.