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


IN WHICH I SHARE MY THOUGHTS ON LAST NIGHT'S DEBATE, MALE FASHION, AND A NEW DRINKING GAME. The word for the night was Anbar . Anbar! Anbar! So much Anbar! I lost count. John McCain excepted, I suspect there's an inverse relationship between the frequency with which a candidate refers to "the success in Anbar province" and the likelihood that the candidate could find Anbar province on a map. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce a new drinking game, which I'm provisionally calling "al-Anbartender." Every time a Republican candidate utters the word "Anbar" in the context of defending the surge, take a drink. By the end, they might start to make some kind of sense, and even appear friendly. Except for Giuliani , who will still be scarier than every mean daddy in every movie featuring a mean daddy put together. Is it me, or was Sam Brownback sporting a bushy new Mike Brady man-perm ? If so, was this some kind of subtle attempt to cast himself as the kind daddy alternative to...


FRIENDS LIKE THESE. Yglesias directs us to this diavlog between Reza Aslan and Eli Lake , in which they discuss Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer 's new book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy , specifically Walt and Mearsheimer's claim that there is no strategic advantage for the U.S. in the special Israel-U.S. relationship. It's pretty entertaining watching Eli Lake fumble his way through to the conclusion that there really is no good argument for the $3 billion which Israel gets from U.S. taxpayers every year, apart from the fact that a lot of pro-Israel lobbyists want Israel to have it. What I find really interesting, though, are the similarities between Lake's argument for Israel's current strategic value to the U.S. and those made during the Cold War. Lake claims that Israel is on "the cutting edge of asymmetric warfare," and thus provides valuable intelligence and experience in counter-terrorism with the U.S. During the Cold War, Israel's partisans similarly argued that...


FIXING TO GO ALL IN . There's some good reporting here from Spencer Ackerman . It's important to understand the U.S.-Iraqi Sunni alliance and Ayad Allawi 's campaign to have himself installed as the new Iraqi Pinochet as components of the conservative push to start a war with Iran . "Indications that hardliners within the Bush administration are (again) pushing for war with Iran casts new light on the recent alliance of convenience between the U.S. military and Sunni insurgents in Iraq. [...] Sectarianism in Iraq is such that the U.S. inching closer to Sunni tribal leaders creates an incentive for Iraqi Shiite politicians to inch closer to the Iranians. A crucial figure here is Ayad Allawi. In his recent op-ed urging the parliamentary overthrow of Maliki, Allawi castigated the Shiite-led government for not "telling Iran to end its interference in Iraqi affairs." His efforts to catapult himself to the top of Iraqi politics, displacing the Shiites, have now won him the endorsement of...


FOOL'S ERRAND. This Fred Kagan piece condemning the GAO report on Iraqi benchmarks is really a masterpiece of excuse-making. Not only is Kagan excoriating Congress essentially for not grading the surge according to criteria which would ensure a good grade, he's defending a strategy of arming factions that, as Rob pointed out yesterday, is inimical to the process of state-building, and thus runs counter to the stated goal of the surge, which was to create a secure space for political reconciliation. Kagan complains: "The GAO report reflects everything that has been wrong with the discussion about Iraq since the end of 2006. Through no fault of the GAO's, the organization was sent on a fool's errand by Congress. Its mandate was not to evaluate progress in Iraq, but to determine whether or not the Iraqi government had met the 18 benchmarks. As a result, as the report repeatedly notes, the GAO was forced to fit an extraordinarily complicated reality into a black-and-white, yes-or-no...


ANTI-DEMOCRATIC TRANSFORMATION. Following on Doctor Robert 's post, while I agree with Rob's statement that "the strategy of allying with Sunni tribes amounts to a renunciation of U.S. state-building aims in Iraq," I'd also add that recent developments in President Bush 's Middle East policy, most notably the $65 billion in arms going to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, amount to a renunciation of Bush's entire program of democratic transformation in the region, and a reversion to "realist" policies of the past. Bush is now primarily concerned with mitigating the terrible consequences of his own bad judgment and incompetence in Iraq, so freedom will have to wait. Bush will no doubt continue to talk about Arab democratic reform, just as he will talk about a united Iraq, while implementing policies that undermine both. --Matthew Duss