Saudi Arabia

A new Obama administration foreign policy post is attracting some controversy. It's really about getting the best people onboard.

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Director Haifaa al-Mansour insists Wadjda, her movie about a Saudi girl who marches to the beat of her own drum, which opens in the U.S. Friday, isn’t a “feminist film.” That may be why it’s such a good one.

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It’s not often that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates openly defy the United States on an issue that truly matters to the White House. But that’s exactly what happened when the two pledged $12 billion to Egypt in July. Not only was it the size of the package—it’s four times the combined aid provided by the United States and Europe to Egypt—but also the apparent intent.

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John Brennan is the best nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency in a generation--alas. The best of a bad lot.

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The modern idea of human rights was only created after World War II. In the next half-century, it became a global movement.

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The Syrian rebellion is exposing a dangerous contradiction in the Shia of the Middle East. Why are the victims supporting the victimizers?

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Does the United States have a foreign policy? Of course it does. So what exactly is it?

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Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Ibn Saud managed to combine a Bedouin ethos with Wahhabi Islam. The result: Saudi Arabia. The National Interest | 15 min (3,745 words) A crime and a disgrace: The Khmer Rouge trials bog down in politics and cover-ups. NYRB | 15 min (3,704 words) Washington, D.C. is awash in wonkery and think tanks. What’s missing?

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If you want to know where the fourteen month-old Syrian revolution against President Bashar al-Assad is headed, the case of Walid al-Boustani provides a useful rubric. Al-Boustani led an ill-fated “Islamic Emirate of Homs” that lasted only a few weeks. Apparently the locals did not appreciate having an “Emir” who kidnapped and murdered their people while claiming to wage jihad against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

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The Need to Lead

Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global PowerBy Zbigniew Brzezinski (Basic Books, 208 pp., $26)  When it comes to offering a vision to guide American foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s latest book, unlike so much other literature of this type, refuses to lament or exaggerate the alleged decline in American power and influence. Instead Strategic Vision offers a kind of blueprint—a path that Washington must take, in Brzezinski’s view, to ensure a secure international order, in which free markets and democratic principles can thrive.

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