October 02, 2006
Shortly after I arrived in Damascus this summer, I dropped by the offices of Dr. Mohammed Al Habash, one of Syria’s leading religious scholars, to interview him about the rise of Islam in his country. But the Danes beat me to him. Habash’s Islamic Studies Center was hosting the first official Danish delegation to travel to Syria since a mob, infuriated by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet in a Danish newspaper, had attacked and burned the Danish Embassy in February.
September 11, 2006
Surry Hill. So reads a plaque at the end of the long, winding private road that leads to the crown jewel of McLean, Virginia: the 18,000-square-foot mansion that Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers and his wife Edwina call home. To get there from Washington, you drive across the Potomac River and along a parkway that, in the summer, is canopied by lush green trees. Shortly before the guarded entrance to the CIA, you turn off McLean's main road and then down a private lane, passing through brick gate posts adorned with black lanterns and into a grand cul-de-sac. A massive brick Colonial with majestic
The wider war.
July 31, 2006
Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 2002 to 2005. For years, we were told that the "root cause" of the Middle East's problems was the Israeli occupation of Arab lands--the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon. Peace would come to the Middle East, according to this view, only when Israel finally retreated to its 1967 borders. The "root cause" theory always had plenty of holes.
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
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.
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.
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.