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

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...

WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS.

Newsweek reports on Muqtada al-Sadr 's role vis-a-vis the surge: Gen. David Petraeus has been deservedly praised for tamping down violence in Iraq, but an unlikely character deserves some credit—Sadr. Five months ago the firebrand cleric ordered his followers to lay down their arms, and they've largely obeyed...American officers now talk about "splitting the seams" within the Shiite militia—working with moderates in the group to isolate the radicals, similar to the strategy adopted to tame the Sunni insurgency. [...] The hope is that this kind of bottom-up reconciliation will push senior Sadrist leaders toward moderation, too...But things could just as well turn out badly. If Sadr achieves the rank of ayatollah, he will be a heavyweight political, as well as religious, authority—and he'll have a leaner, more loyal militia at his disposal. Ambassador Ryan Crocker has drawn comparisons between Sadr's movement and Hizbullah, which does not bode well for long-term stability. I think this...

IT'S THE GAME THAT'S WACK.

Barack Obama last night, with the money : If we were concerned about Iranian influence, we should not have had this government installed in the first place, [and] we shouldn't have invaded [Iraq] in the first place. It was part of the reason that I think it was such a profound strategic error for us to go into this war in the first place. And that's one of the reasons why I think I will be ... the Democrat who will be most effective in going up against a John McCain, or any other Republican -- because they all want basically a continuation of George Bush's policies -- because I will offer a clear contrast as somebody who never supported this war, thought it was a bad idea. I don't want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place. [emphasis added] Being able to speak at length benefited both candidates, but obviously more so Obama in regard to Iraq and national security. His statement (of which the above is only a portion) on Iraq, which...

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