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If Iraq is, as the Bush administration suggests, the central front in the war on terror, the United States is at risk of being outflanked on other fronts. While the violence in Iraq justifiably dominates the attention of policymakers and analysts, the war in Iraq represents only the largest challenge amidst a troubled region at risk of further destabilization. While the situation in Iraq is discouraging, the Iraq Study Group — the bipartisan group of prominent Americans tasked by Congress to present policy options — offers some hope. While the study group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker […]

ANKARA, Turkey — Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and several conspiracy-themed books depicting Turkey as under attack by American and European influences sell briskly in local bookstores. Turkey’s $10 million movie “Valley of Wolves,” the most expensive to date, vilifying Christians and Jews pulls in record crowds. A 28-year-old lawyer shoots a secularist judge to death inside Turkey’s High Court. The Islamic and far-right press is filled with stories of missionaries within Turkish borders converting “defenseless” Muslims to “infidels.” Masked by Turkey’s 80-year Kemalist embrace of secularism, these recent trends reflect a hard fact: Beneath the surface of the West’s most […]

There are no good options in Iraq, which means Americans — who are inclined to believe there is a solution to every problem — are ill-equipped to plot a way forward. The country lies in ruins. Bush’s policy of simply lurching from one bloodbath to the next, from one political crisis to the next, has failed. The military is considering a temporary increase in troop strength, or a longer-term plan to embed many more advisers with Iraqi forces. At this point neither of those plans is likely to succeed, but both represent a last-ditch attempt to avert an utter catastrophe […]

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki seemed set Monday on keeping his mid-week rendezvous with President Bush in Amman, Jordan, even though it could mean risking the survival of his government. The summit called by Bush is opposed by Moqtada al-Sadr, the combative Shiite cleric and a crucial prop to Maliki’s government. Al-Sadr, who is virulently against the continued U.S. presence in Iraq, has threatened to withdraw his political support if the prime minister meets Bush on Wednesday. On Saturday, Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite television news service, quoted Faleh Hasan Shanshal, al-Sadr’s political aide, as saying, “We have asked al-Maliki […]

We can only begin to imagine the despair now coursing through the veins of Arab reformers as they watch the unfolding of the future New Middle East. In Beirut, killers eliminated yet another critic of Syria’s strongman Bashar al-Assad, murdering Pierre Gemayel, a Christian cabinet member and a fierce critic of Syrian interference in Lebanon. Gemayel died in a hail of bullets just as the United States prepares to abandon the collapsing experiment to bring democracy to the Middle East, aiming to replace it with a return to the old-style “realpolitik” of making friends with distasteful characters, regardless of what […]

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What is civil war? The question is often raised about the disorders in Iraq. Does the violence between Iraqi religious and political factions amount to civil war, or is it best described another way? The US-led coalition’s spokesmen, echoing the views of the White House and Downing Street, refuse to call the disorders civil war. Presumably they believe that to do so would be to admit defeat in their project to set up a stable, legitimate new Iraq. To assess the situation in Iraq, it is helpful to understand how a civil war differs from an inter-state, cross-border war. There […]

DAMASCUS, Syria — On Monday, top Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk announced from Damascus that Hamas supports Mohammad Shabir as the new prime minister of Palestine, a candidate also supported by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. This brings an end to the political deadlock that has crippled Palestinian life since Hamas came to power in January 2006. The outgoing Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya, age 43, came to power with big dreams and promises for Palestinians. Among these were improving the livelihood of average citizens, combating corruption, and punishing those responsible for misuse of public office under Fatah, which reigned […]

A C-295 aircraft, the first of two candidates to become a new “joint cargo aircraft” (JCA) for the U.S. Army and Air Force, appears to have passed its early flight tests, according to an official from Raytheon Co., the leader of a corporate team bidding for the JCA business. The Army is aiming to speed the acquisition of the new cargo aircraft because of its potential to reduce improvised explosive device attacks. The plane would do so by taking troop convoys off the roads in battle zones such as Iraq, transporting troops by air instead.The flight tests, concluded Nov. 1, […]

All the sound and fury over Iraq in advance of the American midterm elections signifies nothing. The United States has been reacting to events — not dictating them — since shortly after the U.S. military seized Baghdad three and a half years ago. President Bush’s press conference Oct. 25 was a political gesture designed to convince the electorate that he is not terminally detached from Iraq’s brutal reality. His relatively clear-eyed description of violence and sectarian divisions were a long-form version of his decision to ban “stay the course” from his vocabulary. But Bush did not unveil a new policy […]

In the title of an article that appeared in the French weekly Valeurs Actuelles in December 2005, the journalist Michel Gurfinkiel asked “Is Freedom of Speech under Threat in France?” Gurfinkiel’s question was prompted by threats of legal action against French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut. In an interview with the Israeli paper Haaretz, Finkielkraut had made observations on last fall’s riots in the French banlieues that his detractors denounced as racist “incitement.” Nearly one year on, and following the judgment of a Parisian court in a high profile defamation case, there is no longer room for doubt. Public discourse in France […]