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

WORD FOR THE DAY

NRO's Rich Lowry just got back from Iraq, where he learned a new word : "The word that one hears again and again here, but is so rare in the domestic political debate, is “complex.” The war is changing at least every six months, and every area of the country — even every neighborhood in Baghdad — has a different dynamic. An officer at Forward Operating Base Justice in northwestern Baghdad explains that one translator who works there has to take three or four different taxis to get to the base, with a different faction ready to kill him from neighborhood to neighborhood." I think Rich is being disingenuous here. Liberals have, by and large, consistently grasped the essential complexity of the Iraq project, and have been relentlessly mocked for it by "with us or against us" conservatives. I'm glad Rich is coming around, though, even if it took four years. Thing is, Rich, this word, "complex": it applies to all different kinds of stuff! Please consider this as your magazine tries to get...

DAT WASCALLY MUQTADA!

Eric Martin has a great post on the significance of the Sistani brokered accord between Muqtada al-Sadr and Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim : The Shiites are fearful that the Bush administration is tilting too heavily in favor of the Sunnis - in order to counter Iran, and to keep its own indigenous options open. In fact, there is concern that the Bush team might eventually undertake an all out abandonment of the UIA in favor of "friendlier" Sunni allies. This fear has prompted the Maliki government to cut a $100 million arms deal with China, amongst other "base covering" maneuvers. With the increasingly cozy relationship between the US and Sunni elements burgeoning, Sistani's message of Shiite unity took on an added air of wisdom no doubt. And so the Shiites are hunkering down, not because Sadr has been weakened and forced to crawl back to the UIA, but because there are common enemies to be dealt with first, and intra-Shiite fighting will leave each faction weakened and vulnerable. Thus, rather...

WATERBOARDING IS TORTURE.

Bret Stephens performs the favorite conservative trick of defending the use of torture by defining methods of torture which he favors as "not torture": "For the record, count me as one who does not object to the interrogation to which KSM was reportedly subjected, including waterboarding. This is not because I take the use of waterboarding lightly (although I have a hard time concluding that a technique, however terrifying, to which CIA officers are willing to subject themselves experimentally can properly be counted as torture). It's because I take the threat posed by KSM seriously." Waterboarding is torture . It was devised by torturers as a method of torture. CIA officers subject themselves to this torture as part of their training to withstand torture. Bret Stephens supports torture. "As with the militant anti-abortion movement, which believes that every abortion is murder and thus that every abortionist is a "murderer," the Times editorialists and their fellow travelers would...

SLOW MORNING ON THE PARAPETS.

Apparently, according to my favorite fake Iran expert Michael Ledeen , it is now objectively Islamofascist to report events in Iran in a way which does not conform to Michael Ledeen's preferred interpretation : "AL-AP STRIKES AGAIN! The headline on their story describing, in muted tones, the latest in a long series of demonstrations against the regime: Rare Iranian Protest Targets Ahmadinejad Feh. The real headline would have said “Revolutionary protests continue at Tehran U.” After all, one of the main speakers, reminding Ahmadinejad of his call for a Palestinian referendum, demanded one on behalf of the Iranian people as well. Which is tantamount to calling for an end to the Islamic Republic." ...Which is tantamount to, oh, let's just say it, calling for Iran to be made the 51st state, because the Iranian people love us so much. No word yet on whether these demonstrations also herald the coming of the great Zoroastrian revival, as foretold by the self-described "Iranologist" Ledeen...

OF PINS AND PINHEADS.

Barack Obama decides to forgo flag pins : "Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin because it has become a substitute for "true patriotism" since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Asked about it Wednesday in an interview with KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Illinois senator said he stopped wearing the pin shortly after the attacks and instead hoped to show his patriotism by explaining his ideas to citizens. "The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin," Obama said. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security. "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said in the interview. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism." Imagine that,...

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