Iraqi Elections

by Chris Toensing
published in MER234

Just once, one wishes, events in post-invasion Iraq could transpire without instantly being spun as helping or hurting President George W. Bush. There was no such luck after images of Iraqis cheerfully -- even joyously -- voting in the January 30, 2005 elections for a provisional national assembly zipped around the world. Bush, not surprisingly, claimed the images as vindication of the 2003 invasion and proof that his promised “forward march of freedom” in the Middle East is just getting started.

Europe, the US and the Strategic Triangle

by Saad Rahim
published in MER235

Oil is by its very nature a finite commodity. The question has always been not whether it would run out, but when it would. The doomsday scenarios that some predict --mass blackouts and the imminent demise of suburbia -- may be far-fetched, but the era of “peak oil” is here.

From the Editors

published in MER235

There is one cliché about the killing field that is US-occupied Iraq that rings true. There is no “good option,” no magic wand that will make the violence bedeviling the country disappear. The question ought to be which of the bad options offers the best hope for achieving a sovereign Iraq with a minimum of additional suffering for the Iraqi people.

Reading Culture, Identity and Space in US Foreign Policy

by Waleed Hazbun
published in MER236

Inundated by “theories” about the putative role of Islamic and Arab culture in shaping Middle East politics, one might ask: what role does American culture play in US foreign policy? In recent years, some of the most innovative contributions to the study of US relations with the Middle East have come from investigations into the role of culture, identity and space.

Not All Roads Lead to Washington

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER249

In the summer of 2008, there was an epidemic of diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East. The new diplomacy represented a striking break with the pattern of statesmanship that has prevailed in the region for the last decade: It always involved an ally of the United States talking to an enemy of America without Washington’s approval or participation.

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"The Israel Lobby" in Perspective

by Mitchell Plitnick , Chris Toensing
published in MER243

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s 82-page paper “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” has entered the canon of contemporary political culture in the United States. So much, positive and negative, has been written about the March 2006 essay that the phrase “the Mearsheimer-Walt argument” is now shorthand for the idea that pro-Israel advocates exert a heavy—and malign—influence upon the formulation of US Middle East policy. To veteran students of Middle East affairs, this idea is hardly new, of course.

From the Editors

published in MER243

Both political parties in Washington seem determined not to end the US occupation of Iraq until they are convinced the other party will get blamed for the consequences. It is charmless political theater and grotesque public policy. The occupation cannot end too soon.

Afghan Wonderland

by Christian Parenti
published in MER239

The international occupation of Afghanistan is in bad shape. US casualties are up -- at times the ratio of killed and wounded to troops deployed is equal to that in Iraq, though of course the total numbers are not. Taliban attacks are intensifying, and now include frequent suicide bombings. Kidnappings are becoming more common. NGOs are being attacked and pulling out. Over 200 schools have been burned down and closed. Each year, fewer roads are safe to travel. The country’s economy lies in ruins and its government is a largely dysfunctional kleptocracy. A new round of aid is coming -- at a February 2006 donors’ conference in London, $10.5 billion was pledged through 2011 -- but the long-term prognosis looks bad.