From the Editor

by Chris Toensing
published in MER281

As the baleful administration of President Donald Trump bumbles from one scandal to the next, a set of deeply disturbing patterns have emerged in the domestic politics and foreign policy of the United States.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER280

The surprise election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has already had a dramatic and troubling impact on the domestic politics and foreign policy of the US, and it is sure to affect international relations around the world. Trump is the very caricature of the most negative aspects of the US at its worst—celebrity culture, xenophobia, bigotry, sexism, greed, arrogance and ignorance. Certainly, his corruption, his erratic personal behavior and his seemingly cozy relations with the alt-right and Russian President Vladimir Putin have combined to create an unprecedented situation in the White House. It would be a mistake, however, to focus solely on Trump himself. Doing so risks reducing real and alarming agendas to a personality-driven phenomenon.

From the Editor

published in MER279

At a State Department ceremony on September 14 the United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding promising $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the ten years from 2019 to 2028. As the White House was quick to point out, it is the largest single military aid package ever pledged by the US to any country, demonstrating President Barack Obama’s “unshakable commitment to Israeli security.”

Arabia Incognita

by The Editors | published May 6, 2016 - 1:23pm

The disastrous Saudi-led war on Yemen has entered its fourteenth month.

Bennis, Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror

by Chris Toensing
published in MER277

Phyllis Bennis, Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2015).

The amalgamation of Iraqi ex-Baathists, Iraqi and Syrian jihadis, disgruntled locals and outside recruits known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, continues to cast a long shadow over the Middle East and the world. The grip of the would-be caliphate upon its “home” territory in Iraq and Syria is slipping, but groups raising the ISIS banner are winning battles in Afghanistan and Libya. Meanwhile, the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015 has kept the specter of ISIS-inspired attacks hovering over political debate in the West.

Your Tax Dollars Enable Police Brutality Abroad

by Chris Toensing | published March 9, 2016

Ever since the Black Lives Matter movement exploded into the headlines, violence by American police officers has come under fire from activists and ordinary citizens alike. Less discussed, however, is how the US government winks at the police brutality of its client states abroad.

The military government in Egypt, for example, is cracking down hard on its restive citizenry—harder than any time in memory. And the United States, which sends the country over a $1 billion a year in security aid, is looking the other way.

The cops on the beat in Egyptian cities are a menace. They demand bribes from motorists on any pretense and mete out lethal violence on a whim.

Letter to Bernie

by The Editors | published February 11, 2016 - 3:49pm

Dear Sen. Sanders,

Congratulations on your strong showing in Iowa and your victory in New Hampshire.

It’s exciting to see Democratic primary voters—especially younger ones—choosing your program of social democracy over the unfettered liberal capitalism to which they’ve always been told there’s no alternative. They’re making that choice even though you call yourself a “socialist” and refuse to disavow the label amid the corporate media’s sneers. Imagine that—voters think they should decide who’s electable.

Saudi Arabia's Dangerous Sectarian Game

by Toby Jones | published January 5, 2016

When Saudi Arabia executed the Shiite cleric and political dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, the country’s leaders were aware that doing so would upset their long-time rivals in Iran. In fact, the royal court in Riyadh was probably counting on it. It got what it wanted. The deterioration of relations has been precipitous: Protesters in Tehran sacked Saudi Arabia’s embassy; in retaliation, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties. More severe fallout could follow—possibly even war.

“Think Again, Turn Away”…from Lousy Public Diplomacy

by Amanda Rogers | published October 21, 2015 - 9:50am

CIA black sites. “Extraordinary rendition.” The PATRIOT Act. Massive NSA surveillance. The 2003 invasion of Iraq. Abu Ghraib. Torture. Religious and racial profiling. FBI entrapment. Drones, “kill lists” and civilian casualties. “Terror Tuesdays.”

Whatever the successes of US public diplomacy since the attacks of September 11, 2001, they pale in comparison to the cavalcade of scandals. And all these foreign policy “missteps” or manifestations of “imperial hubris”—take your pick—predate the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, the latest fixation of State Department attempts at counter-radicalization through messaging.

AirLand Battle Doctrine

by Martha Wenger
published in MER111

The US Army has recently adopted an aggressive new warfighting doctrine called AirLand Battle. Its precepts now constitute the Army’s basic “how to fight” principles for a decade of “intense, deadly, and costly” battles. The Middle East is one of three major theaters—along with Europe and Korea—in which the Army intends to use its doctrine.