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

THIS IS WHAT THE SURGE'S SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE.

This article in yesterday's Washington Post on Iraqi refugees returning to Baghdad was accompanied by this graphic of the new sectarian make-up of the city. Comparing Baghdad's sectarian distribution in April 2006 to November 2007, we see a city completely transformed, with a majority of the formerly mixed neighborhoods now taken over by Shi'is, most of them supported by the guns of Muqtada al-Sadr 's Mahdi Army. What the graphic does not show, and the article does not mention, are the concrete walls which have been erected between new Sunni and Shia neighborhoods throughout Baghdad. David Axe reported in April on the walling off of Adhamiyah: Not everyone was thrilled by the Adhamiyah barrier. "This will deepen the sectarian strife and only serve to abort efforts aimed at reconciliation," a Sunni shop owner told The New York Times. Noting such objections, [General David Petraeus' counter-insurgency advisor David] Kilcullen stresses that the walls are temporary. He compares them to...

LIGHTNING ROUND.

As noted below , co-chair of Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign Bill Shaheen resigned after not being subtle enough about trying to make Barack Obama's youthful drug use an issue in the primary. Then Hillary Clinton apologized . Then Clinton strategist Mark Penn went on Hardball to make sure that everyone knew that we're talking about cocaine here. Classy. With regard to Bill Shaheen, this is the first I'd heard that Mr. Big's ex-bassist had gone into politics. (Oops, sorry, that's Billy Sheehan .) The Rudy Giuliani campaign has announced that the candidate will make a major campaign statement tomorrow, outlining his vision for the future of America. Presumably he will detail who can expect to be bombed by the U.S., who can expect to be detained without charge and tortured by the U.S., and who can expect to merely be deported. The New York Times reports that the Mike Huckabee campaign was "crippled for about 24 hours by a massive e-mail breakdown that began just after Wednesday’...

YOU WEAK MINDED FOOL! HE'S USING AN OLD SHI'ITE MIND TRICK!

The Australian has what has just become one of my favorite headlines ever : " Sadr studying to become an all-powerful ayatollah." While the story of Muqtada's returning to seminary to continue his education is a very interesting and potentially extremely significant development, (achieving the rank of mujtahid would mean that Sadr could issue binding legal-religious edicts for his followers, something which he cannot technically do now) the headline underscores the way in which western media tend to present the practice of Islam, and Shi'ism in particular, as if it were some sort of medieval holdover, in which the learned few deploy esoteric forms of knowledge to ignite the passions of huge multitudes. Here in the West we simply refer to this as "politics." Juan Cole has more . --Matthew Duss

YOU SEE, THEY'RE ON A LOOP.

With regard to the sputtering rage with which many neocons have greeted the NIE's determination that a nuclear apocalypse is very likely not imminent, Eric Alterman and and George Zornick point out that this kind of thing has happened before, and before, and before. Conservatives massaging intelligence to achieve their policy objectives, and attacking the intelligence community when it does not produce work that conforms to those objectives, has been a common occurrence over the last several decades. ( This is what actual conspiracy - mongering looks like, folks.) Related, in this morning's Christian Science Monitor , Ray Takeyh and Vali Nasr describe how the NIE could actually undercut support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other hardliners in Iran: The silver lining of the report may well be the weakening of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his politics of defiance. The president might celebrate the report's findings as a victory for Iran, but he can not take credit for it. Nor will it in all...

LIGHTNING ROUND.

With the last week's NIE revelations undercutting the profitability of Rudy Giuliani 's promising to be mean to Iran, he has apparently decided that being mean to illegal immigrants is the next best thing. The formerly pro-immigrant Giuliani says that if he thought the INS could have deported all of the city's illegal immigrants "I would have turned all the people over. It would have helped." The Politico reports that the IRS has received several complaints from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State about political activities of several churches on behalf of Mike Huckabee . The pastor of one of the churches, Rev. Wiley S. Drake , of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, Calif., "responded [by] urging followers to pray for the deaths of... the Americans United officials who filed the IRS complaint." The Lord was not available for comment. Nice photo , guys. Come on, you know? Seriously. In an endorsement upset, the editors of National Review magazine go for...

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