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

The Rise and Stall of Van Halen

A new biography of the band that made metal marketable doesn't disappoint the fans, but leaves the serious guitar geeks wanting more.

Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga by Ian Christe (Wiley, 320 pages) "We play rhythm and blues, shot from cannons." --David Lee Roth All guitar geeks remember the first time they heard "Eruption," Eddie Van Halen's one minute, 42 second guitar solo from Van Halen's 1978 debut. I was 12 years old, at summer camp. I had just taken up the guitar, learning to plink out some pitiful sounding blues tunes on my friend Robert's beat up old Ibanez Martin knock-off. He could play almost the whole introduction to "Stairway to Heaven," and this impressed me deeply, so I used to follow him around and get him to show me chords. One night as I was getting ready to go to sleep, Robert walked over to my bunk and handed me a scratched up cassette with the words "Van Halen" scrawled on it. "Yeah, I've heard Van Halen." I told him. "Have you heard 'Eruption'?" I hadn't. "It's cued up," he said. What came next was kind of a blur. I remember slipping the tape into my cheap Caldor's walkman, hitting...


BAD SCIENCE, GOOD POLITICS. Ezra's posts on supply-side crackpottery reminded me of its similarity to another brand of crackpottery, intelligent design , specifically the way that supply-side theory and ID are both essentially cultural/political arguments dressed up as science. Just as supply-siders offer various economic rationales for what is, at root, a belief that rich people have a moral right to their money and should therefore be taxed less, so ID proponents provide a lot of science-y sounding language for what is, in fact, according to their own literature , an effort to overthrow Darwinist "materialism" on the way to reinstalling the Christian God at the center of American cultural life. The fact that serious academic types don't take either seriously is largely irrelevant, as both ideas were developed specifically for popular consumption via media elites. -- Matthew Duss


MARTY'S WORLD. Displaying the self-regarding presumption that is, after anti-Arab sentiment , his defining trait, Marty Peretz undertakes to instruct the Episcopal Church how to be more Christian: "The Episcopal Church is in decline, and I believe that it is so because it really doesn't tend to the spiritual and transcendent needs of believers. (Of course, there are some individual ministers and churches that do.) But, in general, it is by now a political church, and the shame of it is that this Christian communion expresses itself politically in both England and the U.S. regularly and reflexively against the Jewish state. Nothing else they do remotely affects me. Christ Church on Garden Street, the Massachusetts headquarters of the anti-Israel cabal in the diocese. I judge them, and God will judge them, too." Yes, an anti-Israel cabal whose positions on the Israeli occupation and settlements mirror those of the Israeli human rights organizations with whom they work...


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...