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“What is a Jew in Germany Permitted to Say against Israel?” Thus ran the headline to a commentary that ran in the Arts and Letters section of Germany’s influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) last week. And — though perfectly reflecting the tenor of the article by Patrick Bahners, the editor of the section — a very odd headline it is. For while the subject of the piece is a court case in which freedom of speech is indeed clearly at stake, as so happens the case involves not an attempt to silence a Jewish critic of Israel, but rather the […]

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The to-do list of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for this week includes another short trip to the Middle East in pursuit of the goal set at last winter’s Annapolis meeting — a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of 2008. Few people may think that this is a realistic goal, but the current round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is actually based on the idea that it is worthwhile to try to reach an agreement even if it will be difficult to implement all of it anytime in the near future. Such a “shelf agreement” may be […]

As the presidential elections near, Sens. McCain and Obama will be forced to debate and articulate foreign policy positions before a nation transfixed by its fortunes in the Middle East. But what the candidates say, or fail to say, about the world beyond the Middle East, and particularly about the Asia-Pacific region, will have tremendous consequences for American strategy. In particular, both candidates must understand the importance of India to U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific. First, the candidates must understand how U.S. military campaigns and posturing in the Middle East can have serious national security consequences beyond that region. America’s […]

When war broke out in the Caucuses between Russia and Georgia, the government of Israel immediately knew it had a difficult situation in its hands. The early phases of the conflict forced Israel to walk a difficult diplomatic path. Before long, Israelis realized that the new global reality reflected by the conflict meant an even more challenging environment in which to handle threats to their security. The rumblings of a new Cold War could well mean that cooperation between the West and Russia on matters crucial to Israel, particularly Iran, is coming to an end. Even worse, a possible new […]

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Three senior fellows of the Center for a New American Security, John Nagl, Colin Kahl, and Shawn Brimley, held a press briefing Aug. 13 at the center’s headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, in which they recounted their observations on a recent trip to Iraq. The three traveled to Iraq on the invitation of Gen. David Petraeus, received high-level briefings, visited multiple Iraqi provinces, and spoke with a number of Iraqi politicians and citizens, according to CNAS. Although the three experts differed on certain points, there was somewhat of a consensus about the reality of two parallel phenomena: 1) security […]

Editor’s note: Rights & Wrongs covers the world’s major human rights-related news and appears every week in World Politics Review. To browse past editions of Rights & Wrongs, click here.MELANCHOLY BURMA COMMEMORATES 8-8-88 — Pro-democracy supporters both inside and outside Burma last week marked the 20th anniversary of that country’s Aug. 8, 1988, uprising against military rule with demonstrations around the globe, but few held out much hope of impending change. The military presence inside Burma was high for the anniversary though no major demonstrations were reported. Millions of Burmese took to the country’s streets in the summer of 1988 […]

August is when official Washington shuts down and heads off for vacation. Congressmen and senators travel to their districts to politick, especially in these even-numbered years, and presidents travel to their ranches or beach houses or, this year, to the Olympics. But that wasn’t the case during the administration of George H.W. Bush. In fact, it was during these dog days of summer that the elder Bush was busiest. The next president could learn a thing or two from the 41st — about what to do and what not to do. It’s regrettable that Bush’s presidency is usually mentioned in […]

A cool, comforting indigo blue sea laps gently against several kilometers of lonely shoreline. Fig trees and olive groves dot the landscape above a stark white sandy beach where no one treads. In the distance can be heard the faint murmur of a lone car rolling down a craggy, mountainous road. There are still pieces of Turkey’s shoreline that remain undiscovered, but droves of foreigners are fast gobbling it up. The Turkish coastline has witnessed a construction bonanza fueled by moneyed Europeans seeking a relatively affordable place in the sun. Much of Turkey’s once pristine coastline has metamorphosed into a […]

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Marc Lynch at Abu Aardvark and Dr. iRak at Abu Muqawama (the latter just back from a visit to Iraq) both take a look at the Iraqi parliament’s failure to pass the provincial elections law. The upshot? We’re not out of the woods yet. So once again the good news out of Iraq is balanced out by the threat of potential pitfalls ahead, which oddly enough is used by advocates for both continued military engagement and withdrawal to justify their arguments. One thing, too, is painfully obvious. President Bush really wanted these elections to take place on his watch, and […]

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I’ve been developing the case for listening to what the Iranians are saying recently, and I think the aftermath of the recent Geneva talks are a perfect example. The P5+1 expected an up or down response to their proposal, a proposal that offered significant incentives — including a very serious American gesture of goodwill — in return for Iran freezing its nuclear enrichment program. In that context, the actual Iranian response, which Hurriyet got a copy of, is of course disappointing. So off we go for another round of sanctions, neither guaranteed to be passed nor likely to be very […]

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While an outspoken critic of both the logic and conduct of the Iraq War, I’m always happy to flag good news when it arrives. And the steady reduction in violence in Iraq, while fragile, is obviously good news. I’m just never convinced by the arguments of causality used to explain it by advocates of the war. On the other hand, if Moqtada al-Sadr’s decision to disarm his militia plays out the way this Guardian article (also via today’s WPR Media Roundup) is reporting it, it is not only very good news. It is the most positive outcome to date that […]

Recent developments in a Swiss nuclear smuggling incident have reawakened global concern about the lasting damage the nuclear smuggling ring led by Abdul Qadeer Khan may have inflicted on the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Although it is unclear if, during his visit to Washington last week, U.S. authorities asked Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for additional information about Khan, who has requested a relaxation of his terms of detention, recent revelations about the Swiss incident underscore the importance of continuing to investigate the ring. In 2004, German authorities arrested Swiss engineer Urs Tinner for allegedly aiding Libya’s now-abandoned nuclear program. […]

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According to this CFR backgrounder, neighboring Arab states are increasing their aid to and engagement with Iraq as a pre-emptive security investment in the event of an increasingly expected American troop withdrawal. Of course, forcing Iraq’s neighbors to assume more of a burden in stabilizing the country was one of the logical underpinnings of a withdrawal timeline, along with the pressure it would place on the Iraqi political process to make progress on power sharing arrangements. So, basically, two for two. Meanwhile, why does nobody ever mention the November 2006 midterm elections, which conclusively demonstrated that American public opinion had […]

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Speculating over whether the U.S.or Israel will launch military strikes against Iran’s nuclear program is a pretty crowded market these days, so I prefer to concentrate on reading the tea leaves about potential diplomatic solutions to the crisis. And if you look at who’s racking up the frequent flyer miles in the Middle East these days, there’s some thought-provoking possibilities. Fresh off his trip to Tehran, where he denied carrying a message to the Iranian leadership, Syrian President Bashir Assad decided to take a little seaside vacation in Bodrum, Turkey, where he will be joined by Turkish PM Recep Tayyip […]

The recent clashes in eastern Afghanistan thrust the “forgotten war” back into the public eye. At a time when admittedly fragile stability is taking hold in Iraq, it is also an important reminder that the need for improved counterinsurgency capabilities neither began nor will end there. The international effort to stabilize Afghanistan is in peril, and the United States and its NATO allies lack many of the resources required to effectively secure and reconstruct that war-torn country. Against this backdrop, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s inauguration of the Civilian Response Corps is a very welcome development. The demands of large-scale […]

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Call it coincidence, but on the very day that the two-week ultimatum for Iran to respond to the P5+1’s “freeze for freeze” offer runs out, Le Monde got its hands on detailed minutes of the Geneva meeting between Javier Solana and Saeed Jalili, attended by William Burns, two weeks ago in Geneva. And not surprisingly, the account isn’t very flattering for Jalili. Apparently he managed to completely ignore Burns, seated only two chairs away from Solana, who spoke only to say the following: I’m happy to be here to transmit a simple message: the United States are serious in their […]

TRIPOLI, Lebanon — On the road into Tripoli from the south, Lebanon’s condo- and casino-dotted coastline rises sharply inland to hills crowded with apartments, churches and mosques. Cable cars running to the high ground provide spectacular views of the turquoise Mediterranean to the west, and of Beirut to the south. Further on, as traffic enters Tripoli, a reassuring sign overhead reads: “Relax, you are in Al-Mina, the city of waves and horizon.” Al-Mina is the name for the section of the city surrounding the pristine harbor, where tourists can take boat trips to islands in the Mediterranean, under the shadow […]

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