Matthew Duss

Matthew Duss is a foreign policy analyst and a contributing writer for the Prospect. You can follow him on Twitter @mattduss.

Recent Articles


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...


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...


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...


Getting quickly to the task of restoring Commentary 's intellectual seriousness, newly enthroned editor-in-chief John Podhoretz calls Heather Hurlbert a "poseur" for writing this : "I haven't posted lately because of a painful nerve problem in one arm. Even with Vicodin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxants and the occasional naughty glass of wine in my system, the Bush national security policy, progressive infighting, and the decline of our global standing hurt just as much, I'm sorry to say." I wonder what Podhoretz would call a person who writes something like this about the dangerous life of a pundit: “In its own way, this war of ideas is no less bloody than the one being fought by our troops in the Middle East.” ...I mean, other than " Dad ." In fairness, though, Hurlbert is actually using hyperbole for an effect, whereas Norman Podhoretz has used it for a career. --Matthew Duss


Bing West , via Max Boot , argues that the outrage over waterboarding is being blown out of proportion : "In my book, The Village, I described how in 1966 the police chief Thanh of Binh Nghia village used what is now called waterboarding, rubbing lye soap into a wet cloth and placing it across the face of the prisoner. (p. 67). I never saw a prisoner die or not be able to walk out of that room. But they talked. I reported it and our orders were to keep the Marines in our Combined Action Platoon out of that room. The PFs were under our command, but not the National Police. Today, 40 years later, the order would be for the American adviser to physically stop Thanh and to bring him up on charges." It might interest West and Boot to know that there is a substantial amount of research, some might even call it a "scholarly consensus," that suggests that the Vietnam war was not a resounding American success, and thus "They did it that way in Vietnam!" does not constitute an effective...