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


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


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...


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...


Following on Ezra 's post about James Kirchick 's latest bout of self-parody, I think Daniel Levy' s scholarly work and his commitment to achieving a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians speaks for itself, and doesn't need to be defended from the likes of Kirchick. I will note, however, that what I find interesting about the Levy- David Frum bloggingheads Annapolis discussion to which Kirchick refers (other than that David Frum seems to be completely at sea in regard to the actual scholarly consensus about so much pertaining to the the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) is the way that Frum clumsily dances away from Levy's well-articulated and (should be) uncontroversial point that the Israeli occupation represents a form of systemic violence, to which Palestinian terrorism is one response. This simply does not compute for Frum, who is committed, intellectually and emotionally, to a view of the conflict in which the Palestinians always and only initiate violence, and the Israelis...


Over at Middle East Progress , Rafi Dajani and Ghaith Al-Omari state what should be obvious in regard to a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal: While it may be possible to reach one without including Hamas, it will be impossible to implement. Implementing a peace agreement...will require Palestinian reconciliation. If such an agreement meets Palestinian national aspirations and is backed by key Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, it is hard to imagine Hamas opposing it and risking further alienating the Palestinian people. [...] The PA’s basic message — liberation through negotiation — needs serious rehabilitation through significant, concrete and credible progress toward a permanent status deal and the establishment of a Palestinian state. If such progress is made, Hamas will find itself in the untenable and losing position of campaigning against a Palestinian state. Palestinian president Abbas will be able to negotiate the inevitable future agreement with Hamas for national unity from a...