Cheney: I Was "Advocate" of Iran Airstrike
August 31, 2009

Maybe not a shocker but on Fox yesterday the vice president gave the clearest affirmation yet of the idea that he pressed George Bush for military action to halt Iran's nuclear program.

Back to Reality
August 31, 2009

President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are reportedly planning to meet next month on the sidelines of a UN conference in New York. An international Arab-Israeli peace summit might follow, which Israeli diplomats have already nicknamed “Obamapolis” after the most recent failed attempt to re-launch negotiations, the Annapolis Summit.

A State for Me, But Not for Thee
August 30, 2009

I believe in "the two-state solution" even though I don't really believe that the Palestinians constitute much of a nation. I also think that this is the reason why the Arabs of Palestine, historically and now, have never been able to muster the inner resources to grasp the spiritual strength (as well as the materially transformational qualities) of Zionism that made it all but impossible to beat. Whatever Obama is trying to coax out of the Israelis will not alter the Palestinian realities. Still, the Jordanians aren't much of a nation either.

With Friends Like These...
August 30, 2009

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud is the monarch of Saudi Arabia. He is 85, having succeeded his half-brother, the decrepit King Fahd, who succeeded his half-brother, Khalid, who succeeded... The founder of the "modern" Saudi state had 37 sons. Abdullah is the sixth of the male line to rule. No princesses, of course. It was King Abdullah before whom President Obama bowed during his April visit to Riyadh. It was also he from whom Obama got zilch in his quest for Arab assistance in easing the atmospherics--and really just the atmospherics--of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Afghan Envoy Denies Holbrooke-Karzai Fight
August 28, 2009

Yesterday the BBC reported that Obama's Af-Pak point man Richard Holbrooke had an "explosive" and "dramatic" confrontation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over reports of widespread voter fraud in Afghanistan's August 20 election.

Pakistan Going Soft on Taliban Again?
August 28, 2009

Bill Roggio flags an important--and disturbing--Time story: Despite strenuous entreaties by top U.S. officials, Pakistan has abandoned plans to mount a military offensive against the terrorist group responsible for a two-year campaign of suicide bombings across the country. Although the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been in disarray since an Aug.

Mullen: Battling Taliban "Like Fighting the Marines"
August 28, 2009

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, via Joe Klein: "Last week I spoke to a couple of Army Rangers who had just engaged the enemy. They said it was like fighting the Marines. The Taliban were well trained, better organized, much tougher fighters than they'd been in the past."

Defining "Settlement Freeze"
August 28, 2009

Recent reports have indicated that the way U.S. and Israel might be able to reach agreement on settlement freeze is by excluding East Jerusalem in such a freeze, among other things.

A Key Saudi Royal Dodges Death
August 28, 2009

Saudi Arabia's chief counterterrorism official has narrowly survived a suicide attack -- an event significant for two reasons. First, it underscores that the Saudi royals are still in a very dangerous battle with al Qaeda, which would love to overthrow their regime. The good news is that the Saudis have had success in fighting domestic al Qaeda militants over the past few years, something Obama officials praise the Saudis for.

Beware: Do Not Read if All You Want Is an Intellectual Fix for One of Your Political Prejudices. This Is Serious Stuff!
August 26, 2009

Jeffrey Herf is one of the pre-eminent intellectual historians of totalitarianism. He is a frequent contributor to The New Republic. See, for example, his last few contributions here, here, and here. You can also find a TNR review of one of his books, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys, here. In the current issue of The American Interest, Herf makes a highly convincing argument that radical Islam today is in fact a totalitarian movement with totalitarian ideology and totalitarian methods. No, it is not Nazism or Communism.