Syria

America's Proxy War.
July 31, 2006

"When the elephants fight, the grass suffers." Or so went a variation of the Third World lament during the cold war. The lament clearly applies today in Lebanon. But it also applies in Washington, where the administration views the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah as a classic case of great-power brinkmanship--in this case, pitting the United States against Iran. The paradigm that the Bush team has drawn on in its response to the Lebanon crisis isn't the war on terrorism.

War Old and New
July 31, 2006

It would be too charming to suggest that the Jewish state has now emerged as the protector of Sunni Islam, but there is no denying that the events in Lebanon have furnished a strategic illumination. Many people have observed with delight the varying degrees of solidarity with Israel's war against Hezbollah that have been expressed by Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and even the Arab League, which has now broken its perfect record of being on the wrong side of every crisis in the region. There is nothing pro-Zionist about this solidarity; not at all.

The Politics of Churlishness
April 11, 2005

If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold—perhaps even somewhat reckless-—instincts to pursue the task as he did.

On Not Knowing Where We Are in History
March 28, 2005

Ever since the staggering pictures of naked Iraqi men being brutalized by young men and women in American uniform at Abu Ghraib first surfaced last April, only to be followed by the stunning news of torture and murder of prisoners not only in Iraqi detention camps but also in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, and now, most recently, the astonishing reports of American operatives abducting suspected foreign terrorists and sending them to our "allies" in Syria and Egypt to torture them on our behalf--with its corny, yet horrifying Orwellian name, "extraordinary rendition"--I repeatedly find myself str

Mirror Image
March 21, 2005

TO AMERICANS DESPERATE for good news from abroad, the Beirut Spring is the apotheosis of a Middle Eastern perestroika. To the White House, and many American pundits, the crowds in Martyrs’ Square have vindicated the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. The image of Iraqis voting freely, so the narrative goes, struck a chord in other Arabs that finally gave them the courage to reach for the prize.

Cedar Siding
March 21, 2005

IT'S HARD TO find anyone who hasn’t gotten excited about what has taken place in Beirut since the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister. For the hip young demonstrators who gather downtown every evening to protest the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, the collapse last week of their country’s pro-Syrian government was a big step closer to the modern political culture they desire. For weary foreign journalists stumbling in from Iraq, this is the best riot they’ve ever covered.

Staying Power
February 14, 2005

With the increasing violence leading up to this week's Iraqi elections for 275 seats in a new national assembly, a despair emerged in some U.S.

Turkey Club
October 11, 2004

For more than a decade, you could take several things for granted in Turkey. Islamists normally had no role in government, the army was ultimately in charge of politics, and Ankara was a staunch ally of Israel. The rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's popular prime minister, whose party was elected in 2002 in the biggest vote in recent Turkish history, changed the first two assumptions. Erdogan hails from an Islamic party that had pushed for the legalization of the headscarf and other blurrings of the line between mosque and state.

Key to Success
June 07, 2004

In March 2003, Americans thrilled to televised scenes of U.S. forces moving into Iraq. Well-spoken soldiers, modern equipment, and embedded reporters suggested a sense of purpose, competence, and courage that resonated across the country. But today, 14 months later, the mission is in shambles, scarred by rising Iraqi popular discontent, continued attacks against U.S. forces, infiltration of foreign fighters, mounting civil strife, and no credible sense of direction. Despite President George W. Bush's calls for staying the course, American public opinion has clearly turned against the mission.

White Lie
April 21, 2003

Who's next? As Saddam Hussein's regime crumbled this week, that was the question being asked by commentators across the globe. And, when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took to his podium to declare that the United States would hold Syria "accountable" for its weapons shipments to Iraq—a charge backed up by Secretary of State Colin Powell—it seemed the Bush team had finally provided the answer.

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