Turkey

This is an inside New York story that I read in the New York Post. But it's really an international story with serious ramifications. This is actually a postscript to the twelve Danish cartoons of four years ago, one of which was the image of a bomb in Muhammed's turban. There was an attempt on the life of this particular cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, by a Somali jihadnik a week after the Christmas bomber struck. The Somali was arrested, as was the Nigerian.

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A couple of days after June’s stolen election in Iran, Flynt Leverett and I were both guests on “The Charlie Rose Show.” Mr. Leverett was waxing eloquent about how Ahmadinejad could have actually won the election. His supposed evidence was a May poll, conducted by phone from Turkey, before the presidential campaign had even begun. Apparently he did not read the entire report of the poll, merely a summary, published in a Washington Post editorial. Much of the full report contradicted his conclusions.

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BIGGEST TACTICAL BLUNDER: Pushing the Israeli-Arab peace process too hard. Obama took office looking for bold strokes at a time when peace seemed as far away as ever: Israel had just finished its punishing military campaign in Gaza last winter, and the Arab world was inflamed, and deeply uninterested in making offerings to Israel. Obama's squeeze on Israeli settlements, meanwhile, managed to a) tick off a backlash in Israel that enabled the Netanyahu government to stand its ground, without b) shaking loose meaningful Arab support.

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Leave The Pope Alone

On September 3, 2000, Pope John Paul II, the Vicar of Christ beloved even by Jews, beatified Pius IX, one of his predecessors who reigned from 1846-1878. He was a nasty anti-Semite who re-established the ghetto in Rome and was instrumental in the kidnapping of a six-year old Jew boy who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism and whom the church itself kept in the Vatican away from his parents. These are not the least of his sins; nor are they the worst. But they contribute richly to his biography as a Jew-hater.

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Ian Buruma's New Yorker piece on the attempts of Dutch liberals to manage Muslim immigration in the Netherlands has one particularly interesting nugget. The piece is not online but Buruma--while narrating some history--notes that relations were relatively smooth until Muslim women began to arrive (previously, men from places like Morocco and Turkey came to work without their families).

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Missile Man

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon By Neil Sheehan (Random House, 534 pp., $35)   In late March 1953, a colonel named Bernard Schriever sat in a briefing room at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, listening as John von Neumann, the brilliant mathematician, and Edward Teller, the physicist, discussed the future of the hydrogen bomb, the far more powerful follow-on to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki eight years earlier.

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Traders are racing to figure out what the default by Dubai World Group on $60 billion of debt means for their portfolios and the global economy. Dubai World is a conglomerate with large holdings of commercial real estate and ports across the globe, among other assets. The government of Dubai, one of seven states that form the United Arab Emirates, owns 100 percent of the company, but has no obligation to back its debt. At this point, I see four potential consequences for the United States: 1.) A stronger dollar and lower interest rates.

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At least, that's what many of our old and deeply democratic friends seem to feel. Now, it's hard to accept that the president of the United States would actually make that choice. He probably feels--but how do I really know? I actually don't--that the hooligans and especially the hooligans who produce our oil and the hooligans who buy our products are the folk we need court more than our historic allies. After all, what else can they do but stick with us? Tough darts! Obama's initiatives up to now--with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China--have been failures.

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The Dostum Chronicles

Shiberghan, Afghanistan (one day before the election)—There was no mistaking the general’s “castle.” Its pastel-colored two-storey walls and lapis cupolas shocking amidst the drabness of the surrounding neighborhood. Somewhere inside the compound was General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the most notorious of Afghanistan’s warlords. In almost three decades as a militia leader, Dostum has earned a reputation for ruthless brutality towards enemies, as well as an opportunist’s disregard for alliances, which have shifted without notice.

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Eastern Promises

In June, when four Uighur detainees at Guantánamo were released to Bermuda, the media’s portrayal of their story served as both distraction and palliative: Articles in many papers were written as though the United States had rescued members of an oppressed minority in China and delivered them to a tropical paradise.

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