Silent Battalions of Democracy

by Herbert Docena
published in MER232

Sheikh Majid al-Azzawi was one proud Iraqi. His office, surrounded by sandbags, barbed wire and tall concrete walls, looked more like a military base than an administrative building. But even the pitch-black darkness that swirled in the corridors most of the day did not dampen al-Azzawi’s spirits. “We are very happy to be part of this council, even if we have simple equipment,” said the member of the Rusafa district council in central Baghdad. “It is the first time for all the members of the government, because it was impossible before.”

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A Bloody Stupid War

by Moustafa Bayoumi
published in MER231

When a war breaks out people say, “It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.” But though a war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.

 -- Albert Camus, The Plague

Neo-Conservatives, Hardline Clerics and the Bomb

by Kaveh Ehsani , Chris Toensing
published in MER233

Even as the US military launched a long-rumored offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja in early November 2004, the subject of anxious speculation in Washington was not Iraq, but Iran. President George W. Bush’s victory at the polls on November 2 returned to office the executive who located Iran upon an “axis of evil” in the 2002 State of the Union address and called the Islamic Republic a “totalitarian state” during his campaign for a second term in the White House. The neo-conservatives who were so influential in promoting the invasion of Iraq have long harbored the desire to foment “regime change” in Tehran as well as in Baghdad.

The Tar Baby of Foreign Aid

How Palestinians Are Trying to Keep Their Hands Clean

by Charmaine Seitz
published in MER234

In his 2005 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush, hailing “the beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories,” pledged $350 million in US aid to the Palestinian Authority. One day before the heralded meeting of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Sharm al-Sheikh on February 8, the State Department announced the immediate transfer of another $40 million in aid to the Palestinians.

QIZs, FTAs, USAID, and the MEFTA

A Political Economy of Acronyms

by Pete Moore
published in MER234

Jordan is the poster child for the Bush administration project of “transforming” the political order in the Middle East through free trade. If Jordan is any guide, however, economic liberalization does not lead inexorably to the diffusion of political power.

Democracy, Deception and the Arms Trade

The US, Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction

by Irene Gendzier
published in MER234

The controversy over Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, the prime justification for the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, has apparently been laid to rest. A succession of US-commissioned reports have failed to confirm the Bush administration's claims.

Bush in Jerusalem

Rhetoric vs. Reality

by Josh Ruebner
published in MER246

The first leg of President George W. Bush’s whirlwind January tour of the Middle East took him to Jerusalem, where, in his first visit as president, he tried to breathe life into the renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations launched under US auspices at Annapolis, Maryland in November 2007. The talks remain moribund, but ears pricked up during a speech Bush delivered at the King David Hotel on January 10. Several formulations seemed downright alien to the lexicon from which the Bush White House has generally drawn.