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


Ezra , I don't think Obama specified which Rocky-Apollo fight he was referring to. Given that Obama identifies as Rocky, we can probably assume he means the fight Rocky won, in Rocky II . In any case, he wasn't referring to the outcome of the match, as much as to the hype around it, and how that sort of thing can distract from the important issues under discussion, or, to continue the Rocky analogy, from the rustic, unadorned beauty of two human beings beating each other to a permanently brain-damaged pulp. In regard to Obama's use of the reference, I would offer that, despite being released all the way back in 1976, some awareness of the first Rocky , its plot, central characters and themes, and its contribution of the "training montage set to orchestral funk guitar solo" to the American filmic vocabulary, falls under the heading of "basic pop-cultural literacy." I am interested to hear others' opinions on this. --Matthew Duss


Following up on Spencer Ackerman 's very good article , I think it's important to understand that, while President Bush will of course treat any good news from Iraq as a vindication of his own "steadfastness," the tribal revolt was unforeseen by anyone who took part in planning the surge, and essentially fell into our laps. Through their brutality, arrogance, and disrespect for Iraqi tribal customs, al-Qaeda apparently drove their former hosts to revolt. To General Petraeus ' credit, he seems to have quickly grasped what was going on and used the resources given to him for the surge to exploit this development. Dave Kilcullen posted an excellent summary of the events which led to the revolt, its significant positive effects, as well as some of the possible downsides: "The negative implications are easy to state, but far-reaching. For one thing, we have spent the last four years carefully building up and supporting an Iraqi political system based on non-tribal institutions. Indeed, the...


Kay Steiger has a good piece on the unpleasant reality of perpetual campus icon Che Guevara (which reminded me of one of my favorite t-shirts .) James Kirchick , while apparently agreeing with Steiger's main points, takes some pot shots at her style (which is pretty funny for anyone who's familiar with Kirchick's own writing, which can most charitably be described as disturbingly self-gratifying), and then criticizes her for not condemning Che in precisely the fashion he would prefer, and for not using her piece on Che to launch a broader attack on the progressive left that he feels should be made. "Steiger writes of Guevara’s “impatience with governing,” which is a nice euphemism for a belief in the virtues of violent revolution over the comparatively less sexy devotion to the rule of law and individual rights. Steiger is not the first writer to employ such rhetorical sleights-of-hand aimed at whitewashing the brutality of this particular left-wing thug." No, actually it does refer...


Fake Middle East expert Michael " Islam is very unpopular in Iran nowadays " Ledeen on America's imminent victory in Iraq : "As evidence of success mounts, skeptics often say that while military operations have gone well, there is still no sign of political movement to bind up the bloody wounds in the Iraqi body politic. Recent events suggest otherwise. Just a few days ago, Ammar al-Hakim, the son of and presumed successor to the country’s most important Shiite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, went to Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, to meet with Sunni sheikhs. The act, and his words, were amazing." Actual Middle East expert Marc Lynch , several days earlier : "What these reports for some odd reason neglect to add is that [Amar al-Hakim's] mission was an utter failure. As al-Hayat reports today, the Anbar Salvation Council absolutely and completely rejected the idea of federalism, both in general and in all of its details. Al-Hayat quotes SIIC leaders saying that they will take this as...


Next week is IslamoFascism Awareness Week , David Horowitz 's latest temper tantrum against the American university system for not recognizing his genius and offering him tenure. Advising the young conservative faithful to gird their loins for next week's battles, Horowitz typifies neoconservatives' tendency to present differences of ideas in the language of combat: "We are all familiar with the way the left wages its political wars. If someone happens to disagree with its position on racial issues –if one believes, for example, that government enforced racial preferences are misguided or immoral –the left will denounce that person as a “racist.” In our culture, this is the moral equivalent of a bullet in the head. If the president of Harvard cites scientific data that women have different aptitudes for mathematics (lower) and verbal subjects (higher) than men, the left will denounce him as a “sexist,” another cultural bullet in the head. If a person believes that children should not...