ARI LIEBERMAN: PALARABS….DESERVING OF A STATE? On November 20, 2012 six Palestinian civilians, accused of collaborating with Israel, were dragged from their homes in Gaza City by Palestinian gunmen. The butchery that followed represented depravity in the extreme, even by Palestinian standards. The six were summarily executed before an approving crowd that included children and at least one was dragged […]


Only when we recognize the fundamental role Islam plays in the region can we begin to craft sensible policies that put U.S. interests first.

The revolutions against dictators in the Middle East dubbed the Arab Spring have degenerated into a complex, bloody mélange of coups and counter-coups, as have happened in Egypt; vicious civil wars, like the current conflict in Syria; a resurgence of jihadists gaining footholds in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Sinai; and a shifting and fracturing of alliances and enmities of the sort throwing Lebanon and Jordan into turmoil. Meanwhile, American foreign policy has been confused, incompetent, and feckless in insuring that the security and interests of the United States and its allies are protected.

A major reason for our foreign policy failures in the region is our inability to take into account the intricate diversity of ideological, political, and especially theological motives driving events. Just within the Islamist outfits, Sunni and Shia groups are at odds—and this isn’t to mention the many bitter divisions within Sunni and Shia groups. Add the other players in the Middle East––military dictators, secular democrats, leftover communists, and nationalists of various stripes––and the whole region seems embroiled in endlessly complex divisions and issues.

Yet a greater impediment to understanding accurately this bloody and complex region is our preconceived biases. Too often we rely on explanations that gratify our own ideological preferences and prejudices, but that function like mental stencils: they are a priori patterns we superimpose on events to create the picture we want to see, but only by concealing other events that do not fit the pattern. We indulge the most serious error of foreign policy: assuming that other peoples think like us and desire the same goods as we do, like political freedom and prosperity, at the expense of others, like religious obedience and honor.

One persistent narrative attributes the region’s disorder to Western colonialism and imperialism. The intrusion of European colonial powers into the region, the story goes, disrupted the native social and political institutions, imposing in their place racist norms and alien values that demeaned Muslims as the “other” and denigrated their culture to justify the exploitation of resources and markets. This process culminated after World War I in the dismantling of the caliphate, and the creation of Western-style nation-states that ignored the traditional ethnic and sectarian identities of the region. As a result, resentment and anger at colonial occupation and exploitation erupted in Islamist jihadism against the oppressor.

THE EGYPTIAN PYRAMID SCHEME: DANIEL GREENFIELD Deserts are funny things. A big wide open space in which nothing moves can play tricks on the mind. Spend enough time looking at a desert and you will see things moving in it because your mind needs to believe that there is life in it. Look hard enough and you will see democracy, […]

EILEEN TOPLANSKY: OBAMA NODS TO PUTIN The pundits have expressed shock, dismay, disgust, and embarrassment concerning Obama’s apparent hapless handling of the Syrian situation.  There appears to be widespread astonishment that an American president would permit a Russian ex-KGB leader to take charge of the volatile situation in the Middle East.  George Will has stated that “[r]egarding institutional derangements, [Obama] […]

Figuring the Puzzle of Two Killers Blue Caprice’ Explores the Relationship of the Men Behind the Beltway Sniper attacks by Focusing on the Pieces: Steve Dollar see note please

Father figure? More like Imam and new convert. John Muhammad converted to Islam in 1987. Malvo wrote rants about Jihad and Allah while in prison. Several exhibits produced in the trial disclosed pictures of Bin Laden, a White House in cross hairs, Quotes from the Koran and the words Jihad….I wonder if this movie will mention those uncomfortable truths…..rsk

The Beltway sniper attacks in 2002 claimed 10 lives in the Washington, D.C., area, but “Blue Caprice,” a movie based on those events that opened Friday, avoids a blood-spattered retelling.

Instead, director Alexandre Moors chose to explore an elemental aspect of the case: the quasi-paternal relationship between John A. Muhammad, who was executed for the shootings, and the younger Lee Boyd Malvo, now serving a life sentence.

“I was attracted to the father-son dynamic at its core,” said Mr. Moors, who is 41 years old and lives in Fort Greene. “Once you knew that, it was obvious to focus on this.”

The movie, which stars Isaiah Washington as Muhammad and Tequan Richmond as Malvo, treats its subject matter in bleak fashion, shaped by a visual style that the first-time filmmaker honed while producing videos for Kanye West and Jennifer Lopez.

In “Blue Caprice” (the title riffs on the car used in the attacks), Mr. Washington, consumed with rage and paranoia, teaches the boy how to be a killer, manipulating his need for a father figure. As Malvo, Mr. Richmond masters his sharpshooting skills under a regime of physical and emotional abuse mixed with parental approval.

MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY: WHY DOES THE US REWARD MISRULE IN EL-SALVADOR? A U.S. Reward for Misrule in El Salvador The FMLN has made the country poorer and less free. Yet $227 million in American aid is coming. In 2001, while Americans were reeling from the deadly terrorist attacks that took the lives of thousands of innocent civilians in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, former Salvadoran […]

SOL SANDERS: OBAMA DISCOVERS AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM Among the welter of ironies concerning President Vladimir Putin’s op/ed for The New York Times on the zigzaggingSyria crisis is that “Ras’s” ghostwriter has–however haphazardly–touched on the fundamental issue. Given the arguments and syntax, I suspect the ghost’s first language was American English, not Russian, something I will leave to future political exegesis. But one of […]

RACHEL EHRENFELD: MEET THE NEXT NOBEL LAUREATE On September 12, two days before the announcement on the agreement between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on a plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons–an agreement that has yet to be approved by Bashar Assad–Pravda reported that Vladimir Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Sergei […]


Amatzia Chen (Patzi): if writers Oz and Grossman waved the flag of security, the world would be different.

War legend Amatzia Chen, who is mostly known as Patzi, gave a weekend interview to Maariv marking the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Chen, who is considered to be one of the IDF officers who killed the most enemy soldiers in his career, said that famed “peaceniks” like writer Amos Oz were actually responsible for more bloodshed that he.

Naming three of the most prominent writers in the “peace camp,” he said: “If A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman and Amos Oz were to raise the flag of security instead of their hokum about peace, there would be a different world here. Opinion shapers on their level do not realize that this baloney of ‘peace’, ‘peace’ does not happen on its own, and certainly not with enemies.

“They will reach peace only when the threat of war overpowers it. I told Amos Oz, ‘I am considered to be a IDF officer with numerous kills, maybe the biggest killer of them all, and I am telling you that the amount of blood that was shed as a result of my fire is nothing compared to the amount of blood that was shed following your writing.”

“Amos Oz did not preach war, but the weakness that is caused as a result of writing in which the hand is stretched out only to peace, is what brought about the unbearable boiling over between us and the Palestinians. I, with a Kalachnikov [assault rifle], created 15 years of quiet in Gaza. The residents there did not turn into lovers of Israel, but they understood the need to act in accordance with the laws that were established. Legal and humanistic [laws].”

Chen opposed the Oslo Accords, saying that the IDF would not be able to enforce them if they were broken by the other side. History proved him right, he says: 1,400 Israelis were killed and the IDF was unable to prevent this.

Memo to Congress: “It Is Not Anti-Immigrant To Be Pro-American!”: Mike Cutler

Congress convened this past September 9th, a day that was bracketed by two important dates on America’s calendar. Labor Day which this year, fell on September 2nd and September 11th which, this year, marked the 12th anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks ever carried out on American soil and resulted in the slaughter of more […]