How the United States Rolls

Towards the end of September, after declaring war on ISIS, President Obama gave an interview to “60 Minutes” in which he tried to explain the rules of U.S. engagement: “When trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing, they don’t call Moscow. They call us. … That’s always the case. America leads. We are the indispensable nation.” This also holds for environmental and humanitarian disasters: “When there’s a typhoon in the Philippines,[ …]

Is There a Method to the Syrian Madness?

As I have written before, we all remember President Obama’s smiling face, full of hope and trust, when he repeatedly delivered the motto of his first campaign, “Yes, we can!”—we can get rid of the cynicism of the Bush era and bring justice and welfare to the American people. Now that the United States is backing off its push to attack Syria, we can imagine peace protesters shouting at President Barack Obama: “How can you[ …]

Deaths on the Nile

Now that the Egyptian Army has decided to break the stalemate and cleanse the public space of Islamist protesters, and the result is hundreds of deaths, one should first just imagine what an uproar this would have caused if the same bloodbath were to happen, say, in Iran. However, it is more urgent to take a step back and focus on the absent third party in the ongoing conflict: Where are the protesters who took[ …]

Tunisia and Egypt expose hypocrisy of western liberalism

The cynical wisdom of western liberals – according to whom, in Arab countries, any genuine democratic sensibility is limited to small bunch of liberal elites, while the vast majority can only be mobilized through religious fundamentalism or vulgar nationalism – has been proven wrong. When a new provisional government was nominated in Tunis, it excluded Islamists and the more radical left. The reaction of smug liberals was: good, they are the basically same two totalitarian[ …]

Iran on the Brink

When an authoritarian regime approaches its final crisis, as a rule its dissolution follows two steps. Before its collapse, a mysterious rupture takes place. All of a sudden people know that the game is over, and then they are no longer afraid. It is not only that the regime loses its legitimacy, but that its own exercise of power is perceived as an impotent panic reaction. We all know the classic scene from cartoons. The[ …]

Denying the Facts, Finding the Truth

ONE of the pop heroes of the Iraq war was undoubtedly Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the unfortunate Iraqi information minister who, in his daily press conferences during the invasion, heroically denied even the most evident facts and stuck to the Iraqi line. Even with American tanks only a few hundred yards from his office, he continued to claim that the televised shots of tanks on the Baghdad streets were just Hollywood special effects. In his very[ …]

Give Iranian Nukes a Chance

On August 2, France, Britain and Germany announced that they might cut off negotiations with Iran and pursue punitive sanctions if the country followed through on its threats to resume its uranium enrichment program. The announcement came a day after the Washington Post reported that American intelligence agencies believe the country is a decade away from producing a nuclear weapon-an assessment that differs with earlier timetables cited by Bush administration officials, who estimated that Iran[ …]