The Kurdish Elephant and the Great Middle East War

Let’s mix some metaphors in the Middle East, all of them involving elephants. In the crisis zone that encompasses Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, the Kurds are the elephant in the room. They are the “problem” that no one really wants to talk about. Because it would be stitched together from bits and pieces of … Continue reading “The Kurdish Elephant and the Great Middle East War”

Iran Deal: Is Obama Channeling Nixon?

One of the greatest moments of U.S. diplomacy in the 20th century was Nixon’s opening to China. It was a surprise, a breathtaking opportunity, and a true game-changer. It was also one of the strangest political matches of all time. A president who had established his political bona fides as an anti-Communist crusader shocked everyone … Continue reading “Iran Deal: Is Obama Channeling Nixon?”

Reviving the North Korea-Iran Axis?

When George W. Bush put Iraq, Iran, and North Korea into his infamous “axis of evil” speech in 2002, the three countries seemed to have little to do with one another – except that Washington didn’t like them (and they didn’t like Washington). Iran and Iraq were enemies, not allies, and the inclusion of North … Continue reading “Reviving the North Korea-Iran Axis?”

NATO: Rebellion in the Ranks?

Vladimir Putin, the wily strategist of Russian revanchism, is well on his way to reconstructing the Warsaw Pact. That, at least, is what the pundits of The Washington Post are making it out to seem. Last week, Jackson Diehl penned a column on how Putin has driven a wedge between NATO and its easternmost members. … Continue reading “NATO: Rebellion in the Ranks?”

Recognizing Palestine

In his recent meeting with President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was “committed to the vision of peace for two states for two peoples.” That sounds nice. But if he’d been pressed, Netanyahu might have admitted that the two states he had in mind were Israel and the United States, not … Continue reading “Recognizing Palestine”

MH17: Cold War Replay?

The most bizarre conspiracy theory surrounding the recent downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine comes from a leading pro-Russian separatist, Igor Girkin. Relying on secondhand information, Girkin asserted that many of the passengers from the crash had already been dead before the plane had even taken off. His underlings had reported to him that … Continue reading “MH17: Cold War Replay?”

It’s Our Party

I just heard the news: the United States has changed its mind about Jens Stoltenberg, the new head of NATO. The U.S. Congress has passed a resolution blocking his appointment. Apparently, during his youth, Stoltenberg threw stones at the US embassy in Oslo. As such, he constitutes a threat to American national security, and Congress … Continue reading “It’s Our Party”

Infantilizing North Korea

Political Cartoonists love to portray North Korea as an irrational and infantile force. It’s either a baby with a nuclear rattle or a little truant in need of a timeout. The relative youth of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, encourages such representations, but the practice predates his ascension to power. According to the dictates … Continue reading “Infantilizing North Korea”

America’s Image Problem

The United States definitely sends mixed messages to the Muslim world. Early in his presidency, Barack Obama went to Cairo to “seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive … Continue reading “America’s Image Problem”

Running Against Islam

Every political season has its hot-button issues. There’s race, abortion, lunar colonies. But the hottest hot-button issue these days, judging from comments by Republican presidential hopefuls as well as what happened during the 2010 midterm elections, is Islam. Islam dominated the headlines during the summer of 2010. Remember Terry Jones and his pledge to burn … Continue reading “Running Against Islam”