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.

Hypocrisy Doesn't Win Arab Friends

by Marc Lynch | published November 3, 2004

A prominent liberal Arab journalist who strongly supported the war in Iraq, has a long record of outspoken opposition to Islamic extremism, and has a deep appreciation for American values recently told me that he has never been more depressed or more alienated from the United States. Why? He was absolutely clear: George W. Bush’s policies and rhetoric have made it impossible for moderates such as himself to win their battles for a more liberal Arab future.

Dictatorship Remains OK for our Allies

by Chris Toensing | published February 18, 2005

President George W. Bush likes to associate his administration’s goals with the will of the Almighty. Witness the stirring coda of the 2005 State of the Union address: “The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.” As in many previous speeches, Bush lingered on the way stations of this divinely lit pathway in the “broader Middle East,” the region stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan.

For Arab World Peace, More Voices Need Attention

by Waleed Hazbun , Michelle Woodward | published April 15, 2005

Pundits on the right have been quick to say the Bush administration deserves credit for sparking democratic rumblings across the Middle East. They note the popular protests against Syrian influence in Lebanon and Egyptian President Husni Mubarak ’s pledge to allow multiple candidates to run in the presidential elections, as well as local elections in Saudi Arabia. These events, they argue, show that the war in Iraq is realizing its true purpose. Should critics of the invasion of Iraq now concede that they were wrong? Voices on the left and other critics of the war tell us no. All they see is hypocrisy.

US Stays with Egyptian Dictator

by Chris Toensing | published June 3, 2005

“America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” With these soaring words in the 2005 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush swore to overturn the long-standing US policy of backing friendly dictators in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

At the May 20-22 World Economic Forum in Jordan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Cheney reiterated this “transformational vision” to the assembled Arab political and business leaders. For 60 years, said the vice president’s daughter, Washington had mistakenly backed the Arab status quo in exchange for stability—but no longer.

Bush's Flawed Flypaper Theory

by Chris Toensing | published July 29, 2005

Forget for a moment how shamelessly President George W. Bush tried to manipulate Americans’ emotions by invoking September 11 six times during his recent prime-time sales pitch for staying the course in Iraq. There is no need to recall the reports finding no connection between that day’s terrorist attacks and Iraq, and no call for repeating that Iraq was not in danger of becoming a “safe haven” for al-Qaida until after it was invaded. The president doesn’t really claim otherwise.

Banning Torture Affirms America's Humanity

by Lisa Hajjar | published November 19, 2005

Torture, as President George W. Bush clearly knows, is against the law. The administration keeps reasserting this point because the US torture saga keeps deepening.

Under fire for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed in secret CIA jails and at Guantánamo Bay, Bush rejoined that the US faces an enemy “that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we’ll aggressively pursue them, but we’ll do so under the law.” He hastened to add: “We do not torture.”

Cast Lead in the Foundry

by The Editors | published December 31, 2008

A stopped clock, the saying goes, is right twice a day. The “senior Bush administration official” who chatted with the Washington Post on December 28 was right that Israel is “not trying to take over the Gaza Strip” with the massive assault launched the previous day, and correct that the Israelis are bombing now “because they want it to be over before the next administration comes in.” That’s twice, and so one must take this official’s remaining reasoning -- that President-elect Barack Obama may not smile upon Israel’s gross abuses of military power as the Bush administration has done -- with a grain of salt.

Grave Injustice

Maher Arar and Unaccountable America

by Lisa Hajjar | published June 24, 2010

On June 14, the Supreme Court buried the prospect of justice for Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin who was “extraordinarily rendered” by the United States (via Jordan) to Syria in 2002. Arar was suing the US officials who authorized his secret transfer, without charge, to a country infamous for torture. With the justices’ 22-word statement, the case of Arar v. Ashcroft exited the American legal system and entered the annals of American legal history under the category “grave injustice.” Alphabetically, Arar precedes Dred Scott v. Sanford, which upheld slavery, and Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the internment of Japanese Americans. In this case, however, the grave is literal: Arar spent ten months of his year in Syrian custody confined in what he describes as “an underground grave.”