The Wild Card
June 11, 2008
Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq By Patrick Cockburn (Scribner, 227 pp., $24) To feel the power of Muqtada al-Sadr, the young Shiite cleric and tormentor of the Americans in Iraq, all you needed to do, in the years after the invasion, was go to the Mohsin Mosque in eastern Baghdad. There, spread in the street for a half a mile, as many as fifteen thousand young men would stand assembled, prayer mats in hand, waiting for the service to begin. The scene was safe: Mahdi Army gunmen searched the cars and the supplicants for bombs.
Today's Dispatch From An Alternative Universe
March 17, 2008
It's by Stephen Hayes, who's traveling with Dick Cheney in Iraq: Cheney: Iraq Supported Terror, al QaedaBaghdad, Iraq Sitting in the U.S. Embassy just blocks from the bombed out headquarters of the former Iraqi Intelligence Service, Vice President Dick Cheney said today that a new Pentagon study issued last week confirms Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein's Iraq supported a broad range of terrorists groups, including al Qaeda.
Saddam's Terror Ties
March 14, 2008
This is by no means the first time I've cited Eli Lake's dispatches in the New York Sun, and I cite him because he tends to look at storehouses of information that other journalists somehow don't find interesting. He is not a "follow-the-crowd" reporter.Lake's article in today's Sun, "Report Details Saddam's Terrorist Ties" does not make extravagant claims. But the report itself apparently provides enough solid information that Saddam Hussein engaged with rank terrorists, Islamic and Arab nationalists, quite enough to make the denials that he did look rank silly.
The TNR Primary: Part Five
January 25, 2008
The contempt and insults thrown at Hillary Clinton have always loomed in my eyes as flattering celebrations of her virtues, which, for some reason, have been presented upside down, with their feet waving in the air. Devious, is she? Unprincipled? Out for Number One?--so many ways of saying, a canny politician. I cannot imagine that, in American politics right now, canniness is something to dread. Too many people I meet regard this year's election as a referendum on Bush's decisions in 2003. But neither Hillary nor any other Democrat is responsible for Bush's irresponsibility.
The Wmd Bluff: Is Iran Taking A Page From Iraq?
December 05, 2007
Among the most significant mysteries that arose in the aftermath of invading Iraq was: How could Saddam Hussein have had no weapons of mass destruction? Most experts were convinced that he was very far from having usable nuclear capabilities, but there was ample evidence to suggest he had chemical and perhaps biological arms. And Saddam certainly acted like he had WMD--expelling IAEA inspectors and providing incomplete data when pressed to do so. Even those most skeptical of the Bush administration's claims about Saddam's weaponry thought U.S.
A Noble Nobel
October 18, 2007
Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor that has been bestowed on many without merit: For example, Yasir Arafat, charlatan and killer, and Rigoberta Menchú, simple populist fraud. But this award, voted by five members of the Norwegian parliament, does not bear any such onus. In one sense, it is an election by the democratic elite of a mature free society, acting soberly and seriously in behalf of the concrete interests of mankind.
The Usual Suspect
October 08, 2007
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 484 pp., $26) In October 2002, Osama bin Laden issued a statement in which he analyzed America's inexhaustible number of sins and prescribed ways of repenting for many of them. The statement was, by the standards of bin Laden's cave encyclicals, unusually coherent.
Look Back in Anger
June 04, 2007
What distinguishes the politician from the political agitator is a lively concern for his own job security. Politicians sometimes say what they believe, but they don't usually say things that might jeopardize their political future. Until recently, Chuck Hagel was a consummate politician, and a successful one at that. He defeated a popular sitting governor in his first Senate race in 1996 and won reelection, in 2002, with 83 percent of the vote.
April 23, 2007
The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace By Ali A. Allawi (Yale University Press, 518 pp., $28) Say what you will about the American experience in Vietnam, that war was well written. A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan had a character who could have stepped out of the pages of Graham Greene. John Paul Vann was an even more arresting figure than Alden Pyle in The Quiet American. "The odds, he said, did not apply to him," Sheehan wrote of the unforgettable man who embodied the war'shubris and the war's undoing.
April 02, 2007
These days, as politicians tend to furiously distance themselves from the Iraq war, it's hard to remember back to 2003, when everyone wanted a piece of it. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz weren't the only ones, after all, itching to give Iraq an ideological makeover. Some celebs seemed disappointed they had missed the chance to lead the invasion themselves, and, after Saddam Hussein's statue fell, more than 50 of them poured over the border with the USO. Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped the troops' adrenaline with a screening of Terminator 3.