April 27, 2010
On October 19 of last year, the op-ed page of The New York Times contained a bombshell: a piece by Robert Bernstein, the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW), attacking his own organization. HRW, Bernstein wrote, was “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The allegation was certainly not new: HRW had been under assault for years by American Jews and other supporters of Israel, who argued that it was biased against the Jewish state. And these attacks had intensified in recent months, with a number of unflattering revelations about the organization.
The Bomb Squad
April 21, 2010
Imagine for a moment that it is late 2010, perhaps a few weeks after the midterm elections. Barack Obama has scheduled a surprise prime-time televised statement from the Oval Office. Looking grave, even shaken, behind the presidential desk, Obama fixes his gaze into the camera and speaks: When I said that it would be unacceptable for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon, I meant it. Over the past several months, it has become clear that neither engagement nor isolation and sanctions have slowed Iran’s determination to build a bomb.
The Party Line
April 07, 2010
Russia and the Arabs: Behind the Scenes in the Middle East from the Cold War to the Present By Yevgeny Primakov Translated by Paul Gould (Basic Books, 418 pp., $29.95) Over the decades, many people in the West, and certainly most Israelis, came to view the Soviet Union and then Russia as a force for ill, if not evil, in the Middle East, and perhaps farther afield as well.
Maliki vs. Allawi
March 10, 2010
In the late summer of 2007, Baghdad was buzzing with talk of a coup. Iraq was gripped by horrific civil war, and the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki seemed at best unable to do anything about it. (At worst he appeared guilty of contributing to sectarian violence himself.) In November, U.S. national security advisor Steve Hadley had returned from a visit with Maliki and reported grave doubts about the prime minister’s competence.
Sorry, But The Verdict Is In On The Long American Excursion In Iraq. And It Is Favorable.
March 06, 2010
There were moments--long moments--during the Iraq war when I had my doubts. Even deep doubts. Frankly, I couldn’t quite imagine any venture like this in the Arab world turning out especially well. This is, you will say, my prejudice. But some prejudices are built on real facts, and history generally proves me right. Go ahead, prove me wrong. Of course, Iraq hasn’t turned out that well. Sunni jihadniks are still routinely murdering pious Shi’a on pilgrimage to Karbala.
January 22, 2010
Let’s talk seriously for a moment about Sarah Palin. Now. Now. No eye rolling. Last week brought us word that the good ol’ gal has signed on to serve up some of that common-sense commentary on Fox News, and, like fellow veteran of the ’08 presidential melee Mike Huckabee, she will almost certainly take to the job like a lip-sticked pig to slop. Indeed, by year’s end, I expect Palin to have a show of her very own.
Palin Defenders Ignore Revelations, Day Three
January 13, 2010
A couple days ago, I noted that Jennifer Rubin, who has fiercely defended Sarah Palin against the charge of ignorance, has failed to address or even mention the utterly devastating new revelations that Palin thought Saddam Hussein planned the 9/11 attacks, didn't understand why there are two Koreas, etc. The closest she comes is this item, wondering why Steve Schmidt would attack Palin: Politico tries to figure out why a political operative would commit career suicide.
Memo From Baghdad
December 18, 2009
Greetings from Iraq. This week I've been traveling with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, on a whirlwind tour that took us through Afghanistan and Pakistan before we arrived in Baghdad this evening. This installment of The Plank comes to you from one of Saddam Hussein's lesser palaces, situated on a stagnant pond where the dictator and his sons reportedly used to go fishing. (Most of the buildings around the compound are now named after places in Oregon.) I'll be writing plenty about this trip in the days to come, and in the print edition of TNR.
Speak No Evil
December 17, 2009
The lines most cited in Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech were those about evil: “Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism--it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” These lines won approbation from both liberals and conservatives.
No, not Dwight Eisenhower (and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles), who thought of his Arabs as the Egyptians. Frankly, in 1956, nobody thought of Palestinians, including especially the Palestinians. And, no, not even Jimmy Carter, who, while now especially entranced with the Palestinians, including Hamas, was beginning his macabre infatuation with Hafez Assad. Then there was George Herbert Walker Bush and his sidekick James Baker, who didn't much like the Jews but wanted especially to please the Saudis. The U.S.