Matthew Duss

Matthew Duss is president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and a contributing writer for the Prospect. You can follow him on Twitter @mattduss.

Recent Articles

IN WHICH I IMPLICITLY RAISE THE PROSPECT OF FUTURE XBOX DIPLOMACY

Rod Nordland reports that General Petraeus has held meetings with several of Muqtada al-Sadr 's top deputies. "U.S. commanders say that the Mahdi Army's quiescence is a significant factor behind the recent drop in attacks in Baghdad—by a third compared with six months ago, according to one estimate. And they say they now share a common enemy: rogue Mahdi Army units, known as "special groups" and allegedly funded by Iran, who have declared they will not obey the ceasefire. Sadr loyalists have formed an elite unit called the "golden battalion" to go after these rebels; the Americans are hoping to encourage the more moderate leaders to distance the Mahdi Army even further from its "irreconcilable" wing. "Those elements, such as the special-group, extremist elements, have in fact dishonored Sadr's pledge of honor," says Boylan." I think this tracks pretty well with what Bartle Bull has written about Muqtada deciding , over a year ago, that it was in his interest to cooperate, however...

AT LEAST SHE DIDN'T MENTION THATCHER'S FEET...

I don't really know how to respond to Holy Dolphin Lady's paean to Margaret Thatcher except to say that I find Noonan's contention that there is one appropriate way for a woman to conduct herself in politics (carry a purse, eat beef, and govern like a mean daddy) to be utterly sexist, as well as transparently partisan: Thatcher supported policies Noonan liked; therefore, she is to be emulated by all female chief executives. It's not clear to me that, apart from noting the obvious significance of possibly being the first female president, Hillary Clinton has, in fact, made her gender all that much of an issue, certainly not to the extent that Noonan insists. But if so, so what? As Ann and Jessica indicated last week, male politicians accentuate their gender all the time, they just don't get called on it because in our political culture we expect our male leaders to strut like cocks for our votes. It's also because there is a wider selection of types after which these leaders can...

TALK TO IRAN

David Ignatius writes that Israel's former top spy believes that we need a less apocalypse-baiting approach to Iran: "[Efraim] Halevy suggests that Israel should stop its jeremiads that Iran poses an existential threat to the Jewish state. The rhetoric is wrong, he contends, and it gets in the way of finding a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear problem. [...] "We must be much more sophisticated and nuanced in our policies toward Iran," Halevy contends. He argues for a combination of increased economic pressure and a diplomatic opening that attempts to speak to Iran's "national aspirations" and its shared interests with America and the West -- and even Israel." Efraim Halevy 's characterization of Iran as a rational hegemonic actor, and not the nation-as-suicide-bomber that people like Norman Podhoretz and Michael Ledeen are desperately trying to sell , tracks pretty well with what Trita Parsi wrote last week. Iran feels entitled to a prominent and influential role in the Middle...

I DON'T THINK THAT ANECDOTE MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS.

Over at LGM , D handles this jaw-dropper of a column, in which Alan Dershowitz defends the utility of torture by arguing that it worked for the Nazis . Seriously. Dersh: "There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives." D: "I'm not even sure there's an appropriate response to this, except to congratulate Dershowitz for finding virtue in a program of torture that -- while it may have helped extract information (useful or not) from some of its victims -- failed to accomplish the objectives of those who administered it." Let's see, Monday we had Max Boot defending torture because it was used in Vietnam, yesterday it was Dershowitz defending torture because it was used by the Nazis, now all we need is for someone to defend torture because the Soviets...

GETTING REAL WITH IRAN.

Trita Parsi corrects some of the misconceptions which have muddied the debate over Iran. Here's a significant one: “What Washington failed to recognize was that the policy of exclusion provided Iran with incentives to undermine US efforts. And the weakest link in the American strategy was the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Without successful peacemaking between the Israelis and Palestinians, America's new regional order could not be achieved and Iran would evade prolonged isolation, Tehran calculated. Though Iran wasn't solely responsible for the collapse of the peace process, it did contribute to undermining it by supporting rejectionist Palestinian organizations at a time when the United States was at the height of its power and when Tehran was in a very weak position. Today the tables have turned. Iran is rising and the United States is mired in Iraq. Instead of repeating a policy that failed under the best circumstances, we must recognize that Iran's propensity to act as the...

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