Poetic Injustice

by Ian Urbina | published November 8, 2002

In its war against terrorism, the United States has trumpeted its intentions to spread democracy in a region where there is little. Many around the globe remain skeptical about whether toppling leaders is an effective method for cultivating a respect for the rule of law and a liberalization of the political process. However, there is one place where, with minimal diplomatic pressure, the United States could radically bolster prospects for democracy. To the scandal of its own people as well as the international community, longtime US ally Turkey rigged its November elections. But the real scandal is that the United States had nothing to say about it.

Is the US Ready for Democracy in the Mideast?

by Ian Urbina | published November 10, 2002

Those in favor of an Iraq invasion argue that a regime change will be the first step in bringing democracy to the Middle East. But unnoticed in all the recent national focus on Iraq, recent elections in Morocco, Bahrain, Turkey and Pakistan indicate that democracy, albeit in small increments, has already begun arriving in that region and parts of Islamic South Asia.

The question is whether we are prepared for what those elections may bring. In many cases, these elections were precedent-setting. Morocco held its first transparent vote last month, and set aside 30 seats in the lower house expressly for women. Bahrain, with its first democratic elections in 30 years, included eight female candidates in the final round for parliament.

Anti-War Thinking: Acknowledge Despair, Highlight Progress on Moral Preemption

by Ian Urbina , Desmond Tutu | published March 1, 2003

It is difficult not to feel despair and powerlessness at this awful juncture. Millions in the world fought with all their hearts and minds to avoid violence in Iraq. Inevitably, when bombs fall, there is a deep and emotional void that is opened.

Many will pray. Others will simply reflect. Countless numbers will continue to take to the streets. But all will worry over the extent of destruction to come and the scope of its repercussions.

We have seen dark moments before. Slavery, the holocaust, the Vietnam War — man’s inhumanity to man is not to be underestimated.

Occupational Hazards

by Elliott Colla | published June 1, 2003

Reluctantly, some American officials recently began to use a new word when talking about our presence in Iraq: occupation. Even though the Bush administration worked hard to keep this word out of our national vocabulary before and during the war, it has nonetheless started to appear in press briefings and news reports.

Bush Misled Public About Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction

by Chris Toensing | published June 1, 2003

At long last, many are realizing that President Bush misled the public about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But unlike the vigorous questioning of Prime Minister Tony Blair in Britain on the same issue, our long overdue debate about Saddam Hussein’s presumed illicit arsenal is missing the point.

Before the war, the question was not primarily about whether Iraq retained proscribed weapons from its old stockpiles. Many at the United Nations, and many American anti-war commentators, assumed that it did. Remnants of the stockpiles may still be found.

Rebranding the Iraq War

by Chris Toensing | published August 24, 2010

The war in Iraq is over. Or so the government and most media outlets will claim on September 1, by which time thousands of US troops will have departed the land of two rivers for other assignments. With this phase of the drawdown, says President Barack Obama, "America's combat mission will end." The Pentagon is marking the occasion by changing the name of the Iraq deployment from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn.

If Kerry Wins, Little Will Change in US Middle East Policy

by Chris Toensing | published March 1, 2004

The victory of John Kerry in the Democratic Party primaries following Super Tuesday this week leads to an observation. To a remarkable degree, the urgent desire to deny George W. Bush a second term in the White House has papered over the schisms in the broad Democrat church, even enticing many members of renegade sects back into the fold.

Dilemmas of the Left-Liberals

by Chris Toensing | published August 6, 2003

If liberals and the left are united behind anything in our allegedly post-ideological age, it is that human rights and humanitarian considerations must always trump realpolitik. The left opposed the punishing economic sanctions endured by Iraqi civilians from 1991 to 2003, despite the sanctions’ undoubted success in “containing” the former Iraqi regime. The Bush administration, unable so far to detect a single spore of anthrax in Iraq, is now selling the invasion retroactively as a “humanitarian intervention,” mostly to well-deserved hoots of derision from left-liberals.

Lost in Our Own Little World

by Chris Toensing | published April 18, 2004

Two days after a lethal car bomb exploded outside the Mount Lebanon Hotel in downtown Baghdad last month, I sat down for tea with an Iraqi poet near the capital’s famous open-air book market. In between jokes delivered with a mock Egyptian accent, he laid out his theory of the hotel bombing: the US military staged the violence, he posited, in order to justify its continuing occupation of Iraq.

Military Families Feel Betrayed by Administration

by Chris Toensing | published April 22, 2004

For everyone except George W. Bush and his entourage, the recent siege of Falluja and the standoff with the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr gave occasion to rethink the conventional wisdom about the US-led occupation of Iraq.