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


KING OF IRAQ . The L.A. Times reports that the U.S. Army is doing business with Muqtada al-Sadr. "U.S. diplomats and military officers have been in talks with members of the armed movement loyal to Muqtada Sadr, a sharp reversal of policy and a grudging recognition that the radical Shiite cleric holds a dominant position in much of Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. The secret dialogue has been going on since at least early 2006, but appeared to yield a tangible result only in the last week -- with relative calm in an area of west Baghdad that has been among the capital's most dangerous sections. The discussions have been complicated by divisions within Sadr's movement as well as the cleric's public vow never to meet with Iraq's occupiers. Underlying the issue's sensitivity, Sadrists publicly deny any contact with the Americans or British -- fully aware the price of acknowledging such meetings would be banishment from the movement or worse. The dialogue represents a drastic turnaround...


BLESS YOU, KEITH. Olbermann nails Brit Hume for Hume's casual, and false, assertion that al-Qaeda was in Iraq "before we got there." Four years on, and Hume still persists in repeating lies that the Bush administration doesn't even bother with any more. It's frustrating watching Juan Williams simply ignore this and move to another point. I know he's a liberal on Fox News, but is there actually a clause in Williams' contract that prohibits his calling down this sort of junk? --Matthew Duss


LIVE AND LET DYE . In reference to Osama bin Laden 's apparent beard dye-job, Michelle Tsai explores the question: "Are Muslims allowed to dye their facial hair?" My immediate response is that if Osama believes he can reconcile mass murder with Islam, justifying beard-dyeing is probably a small deal. I enjoyed Andrew Sullivan's take on the metrosexual implications of Osama's hair color, but what really intrigues me is the conversation that took place between Osama and whomever he sent out to get the dye. To deal with my curiosity, I've written a short play: (INTERIOR: A small hut near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Osama bin Laden and his intern, Mike, are sitting on the floor.) Osama: Okay, you got the list, right? Eggs, bread, TP. Cookies, too. Oreos. Double Stuffs if you can find them, insha'Allah, otherwise the regular kind. And then of course I'll need some milk in which to dip them. And the new issue of the Weekly Standard . Those guys are helping keep us in business, so it's...


THE FORBIDDING RATIONALITY BLUES. Richard Cohen 's column yesterday on Mearsheimer and Walt 's The Israel Lobby is a perfect example of the "kvetch" strategy delineated by Tony Karon (via Ezra ) last week. Cohen basically concedes all of Mearsheimer and Walt's main points, but then goes into a plaintive violin solo lamenting the book's "one-sided" and "forbiddingly rational" approach. "Mearsheimer and Walt are prominent foreign policy realists. Realists bring out the scales for every problem, weighing every element. They are forbiddingly rational -- all mind, no heart. To their credit, they were right about opposing the invasion of Iraq, arguing that Saddam Hussein was no threat to America's national security and that his purported link to al-Qaeda was concocted. And in their fashion they are right, too, about Israel; it is a strategic liability. [...] There are factors, though, that move the scale not at all but have an incalculable weight nonetheless. Who and what are we as a nation...


MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES OF POST-9/11 AMERICA . Surely one of the most tiresome, transparently ridiculous neoconservative charges against liberals who oppose George W. Bush 's cunning plan to create Arab democracy by bombing Arabs is that liberals do so out of a belief in the innate incapacity of Arabs for democracy. It's fitting, then, that Marty Peretz not only subscribes to this argument himself, but presents it now as if it were fresh and insightful: There is in an irony here. Conservatives believe that culture is the decisive factor in societies, and that it is static. Now, conservatives want to see a revolution in culture that turns hidebound Arab autocrats into liberals. On the other hand, liberals intensely dislike arguments from culture. In their eyes, such arguments are racist and reactionary. But now they, too, have switched sides. Arabs are intransigent because they are intransigent, they are doctrinaire because they are doctrinaire, they are violent because they are violent...