Middle East

Bin Laden had the book on Obama

Featured image Being on bin Laden’s bookshelf has become, in a way, the modern version of being on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. Bob Woodward gets a special award. He gained both distinctions, if that’s the right word. Politico contacted some of the authors in question for comment. Warning: Greg Palast’s response is nausea-inducing. What should we make of the bookshelf? Above all, it confirms that bin Laden was obsessed with the United »

Delusional White House Calls ISIS Strategy “A Success”

Featured image As I wrote on Monday, the administration’s policies on the Middle East are in a state of collapse. This is partly–but only partly–because ISIS is rampaging across Syria and Iraq. So on Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was pressed on how the president’s campaign to “degrade and destroy” ISIS is going. Overall, Earnest said, the president’s strategy has been a success: Because the administration’s strategy has been successful “overall,” »

Obama’s Middle East Policy Is In a State of Collapse

Featured image You know it’s bad when even the Associated Press notices: “Rout In Ramadi Calls US Iraq Strategy Into Question.” The fall of Ramadi calls into question the Obama administration’s strategy in Iraq. Is there a Plan B? The current U.S. approach is a blend of retraining and rebuilding the Iraqi army, prodding Baghdad to reconcile with the nation’s Sunnis, and bombing Islamic State targets from the air without committing American »

“The IDF is worth it,” some Arabs agree

Featured image The Jerusalem Post reports that an Arab language Facebook page posted by an Israeli Arab citizen that paints the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in a positive light has attracted favorable feedback from Arab youths across the Middle East. The Facebook page, called “The IDF is worth it,” features praise for Israel and the its defense forces, along with anti-Hamas images. The site’s author is an IDF veteran. He says he »

Saudi King blows off Obama

Featured image Saudi Arabia has announced that its new monarch, King Salman, will not attend meetings at the White House with President Obama or a summit of Arab leaders at Camp David. The king will instead send Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is the interior minister, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the defense minister. The main reason cited for the King’s abstention — the summit meeting overlaps »

Fareed Zakaria’s recurring dream

Featured image Fareed Zakaria argues that with Israel ascendant and largely unthreatened, it now has “an extraordinary strategic opportunity” to bring about a Palestinian state. Just how Israel would go about this — i.e., what concessions it should make — Zakaria doesn’t say. Zakaria’s premise is that reality in the Middle East “has changed dramatically in Israel’s favor.” He cites “the disappearance of the Arab threat” (Iraq, Syria and Egypt are “in »

Iranian Piracy: Nothing Happens for No Good Reason

Featured image I’ve had occasion before to mention the maxim of my late teacher of international affairs, Harold Rood, that “nothing happens for no good reason.”  (By the way, there’s a brand new book out about Rood’s idiosyncratic method of understanding international affairs: You Run the Show or the Show Runs You: Capturing Harold W. Rood’s Strategic Thought for a New Generation, by J.D. Crouch II and Patrick J. Garrity. More about »

Uncommon Knowledge with Tom Cotton

Featured image Senator Tom Cotton recently sat down with Peter Robinson in Washington to record an interview for Peter’s Uncommon Knowledge series (video below, 39 minutes). The interview focuses on questions of national security and offers cogent thoughts on the cause of the present discontents. The video is also posted here under the auspices of the Hoover Institution. I’m posting the interview this morning in the hope that readers can make time »

Israel, “the world’s most vibrant democracy”

Featured image Like the American left, Palestinians aren’t pleased about Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory. But some Palestinian opinion leaders are taking the news more graciously than David Axelrod and, I would argue, President Obama. Evelyn Gordon reports: A veteran Palestinian journalist from Ramallah summed up the prevailing sentiment [among Palestinians] succinctly. “We say all these bad things about Israel, but at least the people there have the right to vote and enjoy democracy,” »

Saudi Arabia Sees the Handwriting on the Wall

Featured image The Obama administration insists that it is negotiating an agreement with Iran that will prevent that country from acquiring nuclear weapons–for a while, anyway. Critics of the negotiations, as reflected in the interim agreement already reached and in news reports of the discussions in progress, suspect that the deal Obama has in mind will facilitate, not prevent, a nuclear Iran. As reported, the deal will sunset in ten years, leaving »

Christians Fight Back Against ISIS

Featured image The Telegraph has a good article about Syria’s Christians, who are trying to defend themselves against the depredations of ISIS. (What’s more, it’s the beginning of the month, so you can actually read it–the Telegraph has a bizarre business model that causes articles published early in the month to have 10 to 20 times as many readers–I’m guessing here–as articles published at the end of the month. But that’s a »

Obama isn’t just giving Iran the store; he’s giving it the neighborhood

Featured image The Washington Post’s editors present three major concerns with the U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations — concerns that they say need to be highlighted now, before President Obama presents the world with a fait accompli. The three concerns are: (1) that a process began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capacity; (2) during the negotiations, Obama »

Why does Obama crave a grand bargain with Iran?

Featured image Michael Ledeen notes that important commentators have come around to the view that he (and I) have long expressed — that President Obama is in thrall to Iran and that the nuclear negotiations aren’t really about curbing Iran’s nuclear capacity, but rather about striking a grand bargain with the mullahs. Michael Doran’s excellent essay in Mosaic, which was one of our Power Line “picks,” is a good example of recent »

State Department funded group working to defeat Netanyahu

Featured image John has written about how President Obama’s campaign team is working to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s upcoming elections. To make matters worse, the anti-Netanyahu campaign is benefiting from U.S. taxpayer money. As John noted, the organization “One Voice” wants to help take down Netanyahu’s party in the March 2015 Knesset elections that will ultimately determine the next Israeli Prime Minister. “One Voice” claims to be non-partisan, but it is »

Living In a World Gone Mad

Featured image HarperCollins has produced at atlas for use in English-speaking schools in the Middle East that features a conspicuous omission. There’s Gaza, and there’s the West Bank. Jordan and Lebanon are accounted for. But…where is Israel? I naively would have expected HarperCollins to say we weren’t looking hard enough, or attribute the omission to a lack of space. But no: Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialises in maps, told »

Oil, Oil, Toil and Trouble (Update 4)

Featured image There’s a mountain of economic research that suggests predatory pricing, the alleged sin of Standard Oil way back in the Rockefeller “robber baron” days more than a century ago, really doesn’t work, as the predator won’t recoup monopoly gains to make up the loss of profit during the period of predation—the more so the longer the period of price cutting takes. The Saudis likely know this, which suggests their decision »

Breaking: U.S. Hostage Killed in Failed Raid

Featured image News is coming over the wires right now that Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, held hostage in Yemen by al-Qaeda terrorists, were killed during an attempted rescue raid by American special forces yesterday. Here’s some of the BBC account up in just the last few minutes: UK-born US journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie have been killed by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen during a failed »