Saddam Hussein

Libya’s Legacy
February 23, 2011

Not since Saddam Hussein’s regime was demolished in 2003 has an Arab head of state run a more ruthlessly repressive terror state than Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak were small-government libertarians by comparison.

The Godfather of Middle Eastern Protest
February 17, 2011

[Guest post by Ezra Deutsch-Feldman.] With the sudden success of nonviolent revolution in Egypt, attention has turned to the seemingly ubiquitous influence of Peter Ackerman, a former investment banker who became something of an intellectual godfather to the Middle Eastern protest movements. His group, the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, produced instructional videos for leaders of nonviolent revolutions, held conferences where would-be revolutionaries could meet and swap tactics, and even financed a video game meant to help organizers plan and practice grassroots uprisings.

The Ambiguous Revolt
January 27, 2011

What kind of revolution is the Tunisian uprising?

The Will to Believe
January 27, 2011

Decision Points By George W. Bush (Crown, 497 pp., $35) The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer (Princeton University Press, 386 pp., $29.95) George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait By Dan P. McAdams (Oxford University Press, 274 pp., $29.95) It’s worth listening to the audiobook version of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, because not so long ago Obama had both the time and the inclination to spend many hours voicing the recording himself.

No Arab Society Is Immune
January 19, 2011

That is a simple fact, no matter what the apologists, paid and unpaid, say. And what they are not immune from is murder activated by politically motivated killers. It almost doesn't matter who the victims are. It's the numbers that count, the bigger the better. Yesterday, Stephen Lee Meyers reported in the New York Times that at least 49 hopefuls for the police academy were blown to smithereens in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town. Meyers wrote that the ministry of the interior had announced that there had been 60 dead. The reporter's own number for the wounded and maimed was 116.

September 20, 2010

The most durable myth in the Middle East is: "It's Palestine, stupid." It lies at the heart of Barack Obama's Middle East diplomacy, which is why the president has been pummeling the Israelis and pushing the Palestinians to resume talks. According to this myth, the most urgent problem is not the Iranian bomb or Syrian ambitions. It is not Egypt, once an anchor of stability and now slipping into precarious irrelevance. It is not Iraq, which is tottering between occupation and anarchy. It is not Al Qaeda in Yemen, the return of the Taliban, or the ticking time bomb that is Pakistan.

Obama Wants Us To Forget the Lessons of Iraq
August 31, 2010

The Iraq war? Fuggedaboudit. “Now, it is time to turn the page.” So advises the commander-in-chief at least. “[T]he bottom line is this,” President Obama remarked last Saturday, “the war is ending.” Alas, it’s not. Instead, the conflict is simply entering a new phase. And before we hasten to turn the page—something that the great majority of Americans are keen to do—common decency demands that we reflect on all that has occurred in bringing us to this moment.

Thoughts From Tehran
July 29, 2010

We were all dreamers then. When we overthrew the Shah, we thought a bright new age had dawned. Tyranny had been defeated and soon we would vanquish all the secularists, Westernizers, imperialists, and Zionists. Our glorious revolution would be the model for millions, not only in the Middle East but among Muslims everywhere. Islam would be restored to its rightful place at the center of people’s lives, and piety would replace politics. Some of us even imagined that all the prophecies of the Koran were about to come true. Such dreams.

It Is A Show Of Strength To Which The Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea Has Threatened To Respond With ‘Sacred War’
July 25, 2010

 What's this stuff about sacred war coming from a Godless communist  country? OK, revolutionary governments usually exaggerate, Pyongyang  is no exception. In fact, it is a prime instance of such behavior. It cannot feed its own people, and its democratic enemy/neighbor to  the south has been doing just that for them. This does not pacify Kim  Jong Il, the Stalinist leader, nor apparently will it pacify the sick  old man's designated successor, Kim Jong-un, his son, age not quite  known. Do you notice how ‘progressive’ tyrannies have royalist  habits?

Obama's Strange Defense of the Hijab, and Syria's Defiance of It.
July 20, 2010

One of President Obama's weirdest causes is his defense of the hijab or the niqab. Not that I want to take the veil away from any Muslim women... anywhere. Still, he is president of the United States and might just want to limit his special pleadings to truly significant ones. Anyway, he didn't. He tried out the trope in Cairo last year and followed it up during the Ramadan fest at the White House. These turned out to be not very successful interventions. As we learn from this morning's newspaper, even Syria has turned its back (or Bashaar Assad, his) on Obama's pleadings.