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

YESTERDAY'S TERRORIST IS TODAY'S LINCHPIN.

International Crisis Group has just published a new report entitled "Iraq’s Civil War, the Sadrists and the Surge." It's findings are summarized thusly: The dramatic decline in bloodshed in Iraq – at least until last week’s terrible market bombings in Baghdad – is largely due to Muqtada al-Sadr’s August 2007 unilateral ceasefire. Made under heavy U.S. and Iraqi pressure and as a result of growing discontent from his own Shiite base, Muqtada’s decision to curb his unruly movement was a positive step. But the situation remains highly fragile and potentially reversible. If the U.S. and others seek to press their advantage and deal the Sadrists a mortal blow, these gains are likely to be squandered, with Iraq experiencing yet another explosion of violence. The need is instead to work at converting Muqtada’s unilateral measure into a more comprehensive multilateral ceasefire that can create conditions for the movement to evolve into a fully legitimate political actor. As I wrote last week...

NEW FRONTIERS IN DEMAGOGIC HICKITUDE.

Shorter Mike Huckabee : "Wanting to end the war in Iraq shows that Barack Obama and other Democrats just don't get it about the Holocaust." Interesting that an American presidential candidate takes to the pages of the Jerusalem Post to deliver these sorts of attacks. Also interesting is that, according to Huckabee's fundamentalist Christian Zionist eschatology, the threat of "convert or die" that Huckabee attributes to the forces of Islamofascism [sic] is precisely the deal that Jesus Christ is supposed to offer the Jews when he makes his comeback . Maybe Huckabee could address this in his next article. --Matthew Duss

UNFORGIVABLE BLACKNESS EDGY JESSE JACKSON TYPE OLD-TIME CAMPAIGNING STYLE.

Victor Davis Hanson , reviewing Oprah Winfrey 's speech at a weekend rally for Barack Obama : [Oprah] seemed to be mimicking, through a sort of mock-wimpy intonation, those (mostly white elite?) feminists who were shocked about her endorsement of Obama. And then she started rousing the crowd in a sort of loud faux-gospel mode, answering to her critics that she was "a free woman!" and then went more into the edgy Jesse Jackson type old-time campaigning style. The problem with all that is that she created her $1 billion empire precisely by appealing to a mostly staid white suburban therapeutic audience, to whom she is used to talking in precisely the same flat-toned neutral manner that she was this weekend apparently mocking. So what I hear Vic saying is that, having built a media empire by talking white, it's no good for Oprah to go "blacking it up" now. (This is the point at which I double over, feigning acute appendicitis, in order to flee the room, warning other partygoers to avoid...

IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT US.

Gershom Gorenberg writes about how hardened assumptions about the Middle East, combined with a tendency to willfully ignore the interests of individual regimes in favor of a grand strategic framework, have often blinded American policymakers to reality in the region. Ever since it turned out that Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction were the equivalent of a toy pistol in a bank robber's hand, people have wondered why he maintained the illusion. The suggestion I've heard in café conversations in Jerusalem always made most sense to me: Saddam was much more scared of Iran than of the United States, and wanted at least the silhouette of a deterrent. This was a bad gamble, but then so was invading Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. To the extent that the Bush administration convinced itself, and not just the public, that the toy was real, it failed to consider what the Middle East looked like from the inside. It regarded Iran and Iraq as co-members of an anti-American "axis...

Y KANT MARTY READ?

Indulging in one of his periodic tirades against Christians who have the bad form to call attention to the widespread human rights abuses of the Israeli occupation, Marty Peretz inveighs against those perfidious Methodists, noting with apparent satisfaction a drop in church membership: Nearly 70 years ago, in 1940, when the US had 100 million people there were less than a million Methodists. Today, when the US has about 300 million people, the Methodists have, well, less than a million communicants. This is not a growing church, and its message has been waning even with this drop in its numbers. Interestingly, the JTA news report that got Marty’s blood up had this to say: Two of the 11-million member church 's regional groupings, in New England and Virginia, have recommended divestment from companies that allegedly are complicit in Israel's West Bank occupation. [emphasis mine] Okay, so he was only off by more than ten million. But that’s not the issue! What’s the issue, Marty? It's...

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