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


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


LEDEEN'S IRANALYSIS. Utterly dedicated to the task of getting us into war with Iran, self-described "Iranologist" Michael Ledeen has taken it upon himself to decide who does and does not qualify as a true Iraqi . "A footnote to Fred Kagan's exceptional work on events in Iraq: he rightly says "al Qaeda in Iraq is a foreign-run Iraqi terrorist organization." Moreover, one has to stipulate that "Iraqi terrorist" is a term rather more complicated than outfits like al-AP seem to understand. Many Iraqis went to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, where they were trained/indoctrinated by the mullahs for twenty-plus years. We're talking about several million people, not a few cadres. Some of them, along with children, were sent into Iraq to fight us. It's very misleading to simply call them "Iraqis." Maybe they—and their children even more so—should be called "Iranians of Iraqi origin," or "Iranian agents" or some such. Groups like AQI, along with Shi'ite militias, have a strong "foreign"...


"HOARD WEAPONS, GROW GILLS, AND LEARN TO COMMUNICATE WITH SERPENTS." Jonah Goldberg is upset that, two years after Katrina, the news media are still under-reporting their own failures. "Few of us can forget the reports from two years ago. CNN warned that there were "bands of rapists, going block to block." Snipers were reportedly shooting at medical personnel. Bodies at the Superdome, we were told, were stacked like cordwood. The Washington Post proclaimed in a banner headline that New Orleans was a "A City of Despair and Lawlessness," insisting in an editorial that "looters and carjackers, some of them armed, have run rampant." Fox News anchor John Gibson said there were "all kinds of reports of looting, fires and violence. Thugs shooting at rescue crews." [...] Reports of the Superdome being a slaughterhouse were repeated, even though dozens of news organizations had access to the building. CBS alone had 200 people in New Orleans, and yet it couldn't find those bodies stacked to the...