State Department Taking Passports Away from Yemeni-Americans

by The Editors | published August 9, 2014 - 4:18pm

Over the past year, dozens of Yemeni-Americans visiting their ancestral homeland have had their US passports summarily revoked or confiscated by the embassy in Sanaa without any clear legal basis, effectively stranding them outside the United States. Last month, a coalition of US civil rights groups submitted a report on this practice to the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) pursuant to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Another Benghazi

by Chris Toensing | published August 9, 2014 - 3:52pm

“We didn’t want another Benghazi.” Oh no, is that really why the Obama administration decided to bomb Iraq?

Do we have another bunch of fools in the White House who learn precisely the wrong lessons from their mistakes?

Not Much Better Than Bush

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published July 23, 2014

President Barack Obama got it right when he declared: "There's no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States."

But his Iraq track record doesn’t mark much of an improvement over the mess his predecessor made.

Matthew Huber, Lifeblood

by Chris Toensing
published in MER271

Matthew Huber, Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom and the Forces of Capital (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).

“The American way of life” -- is there another phrase that sounds so innocuous yet is so fraught? To most Americans, and admirers of the United States abroad, the four words evoke naught but virtue, the “values” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that make the United States the envy of the world, for better and for worse. To critics fond of scare quotes, the term is more likely to mean runaway consumption, particularly as regards car culture, and blissful (or even willful) ignorance of the perils.

Three Pawns in the “Great Game”

The Early CIA in the Middle East

by David H. Price
published in MER271

Hugh Wilford, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (New York: Basic Books, 2013).

Middle East scholars have long been aware of the CIA’s power and swagger in the region, yet their studies rarely mention the Agency beyond passing references, and the CIA’s role in events is seldom the primary focus of academic works. There are several reasons for this lacuna, not the least of which are the methodological obstacles to studying secret activity.

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"Energy Security"

Genealogy of a Term

by Toby Jones
published in MER271

Over the last few decades, the phrase “energy security” has spread like an oil spot from specialized literature outward into the standard lexicon of reporters and politicians. Like “security” itself, it is a term whose meaning seems transparent but resists precise definition, in part because the meaning is not immediately obvious and in part because the meaning seems to expand as time goes by. What is “energy security”? Why did it become so prominent in discussions of global politics in the late twentieth century and why is it so important today? We asked Toby Jones, associate professor of Middle East history at Rutgers University and an editor of this magazine, to supply some clarity about this concept. Jones is working on a book that will treat this subject in depth.

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Catastrophe and Consequence

by The Editors | published June 13, 2014 - 4:01pm

What is happening in Iraq is a catastrophe, but not a sudden one. The violence in Iraq has been worsening steadily over the last few years. And more to the point, today’s crisis is the consequence of failed policies and failed politics -- national, regional and international -- years and even decades in the making.

No understanding of today’s Iraq is complete without the background of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and ensuing Gulf war, and the 13 years of UN economic sanctions, all of which set the stage for the additional disasters that would befall Iraq with the US-led invasion of 2003.

Petraeus’ Real Failure

by Laleh Khalili | published June 12, 2014 - 12:38pm

On the sidelines of the catastrophic failure of the Iraqi army to hold back the militias of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (or ISIS, as it is usually known), and the fall of Mosul to that group, a debate is taking place in the United States about whether this turn of events is yet another black mark in the massive ledger of retired Gen. David Petraeus. As Anne Barnard of the New York Times tweeted, “Remember the ‘Mosul miracle’ under Petraeus?”

Indyk vs. Indyk

by Jamie Stern-Weiner | published May 12, 2014 - 11:31am

Israelis and Palestinians share responsibility for the collapse of Middle East peace talks. That was the message delivered on Thursday by US special envoy to the peace process Martin Indyk, in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Israel issued tenders for 4,800 settlement units during the talks, he noted, while on the Palestinian side, accession to international treaties and reconciliation with Hamas had been “unhelpful” to US efforts to rescue an already faltering process.

Washington Gets “Less Crazy”

by Chris Toensing | published May 9, 2014 - 2:27pm

Yesterday the New America Foundation (NAF), a center-left think tank located one block north of big, bad K Street, hosted a discussion about the 1948 war, the expulsion of Palestinians from what would become Israel, the new state’s imposition of a draconian military regime upon the Palestinians who managed to stay inside the armistice lines, and all that this painful history implies for the present and the future.