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Adam Garfinkle
The Middle East & Beyond
May 31, 2012

The Pitfalls of Passive Policy

Perhaps the most useful way to think of this brief comment is as a postscript to what I wrote yesterday. The media reports on Syria today are deeply disheartening—frustrating, really. The basic theme is the realization that the Annan plan has failed, no internal negotiations in Syria are likely to arise at this point, and […]

May 30, 2012

Obama Gets Tough on Syria, Cancels Assad’s Library Card

There’s an old Booth New Yorker cartoon showing an old man sitting in an armchair cackling while reading the newspaper, and back over his shoulder his wife says to a visitor something to the effect, “George has always enjoyed reading the morning paper, but lately it seems to be frequently accompanied by a graveyard laugh”—or […]

May 29, 2012

More Syria Policy Failure

In recent weeks I have twice written in this space of the Obama Administration’s efforts to cover up its politically motivated spinelessness over Syria with efforts to make it seem like it’s doing something constructive. Using the New York Times as its very willing channel, it first tried to crow over its closer cooperation with […]

May 25, 2012

Look Before You Leap

It used to be, I think, that the vast majority of strategists and statesmen played chess, or in non-Western cultures some comparably complex game that required players to anticipate what their opponents might do in an extended sequence of moves. This was good training for the real world. If you read in the history of […]

May 24, 2012

Improbable Beliefs

It occurred to me recently that one somewhat glib way to define a religious believer is to say that he (or she) is a person who counts every other religion’s narrative as impossibly far-fetched, except his own. If one puts aside Unitarianism and a few other rather bland, intellectualized modern products (defined as any “religious” […]

May 21, 2012

Obama Administration Spinning on Syria

The news from Syria in recent days is more of the same—bad—except for when it is worse than bad. On Saturday a suicide bombing in Deir ez-Zour, apparently aimed at a regime target, killed 9 people and wounded more than eight dozen others. Coming after the suicide bombings in Damascus on May 10, these kinds […]

May 17, 2012

Jewcentricity on the Tube

I have before me a little eight-sheet brochure called “Guide To Jewish TV Programs.” It is advertising something called “The Jewish Channel”, abbreviated TJC, with a little Star of David above the “J”—very cute. Inside, the brochure refers to TJC as “A Jewish HBO”, quoting, apparently, the New York Times. From the brochure, one can […]

May 16, 2012

Feckless in Syria

There is a particularly interesting article in today’s Washington Post on the situation in Syria. It is closer to news analysis than it is to a straight news article, which explains the sharp discrepancy between today’s Post coverage and that in the New York Times. The latter reports specifically on a group of UN-sponsored observers, […]

May 15, 2012

An Essential Writing Guide

I’m really happy to announce that my latest book, Political Writing: A Guide to the Essentials, is being published today by M.E. Sharpe. Before anyone gets too excited about this (yes, that’s a joke….) let me note that this book is not like Telltale Hearts (1995) or Jewcentricity (2009). It is more of a “how to” […]

Lebanon on the Brink

In my most recent post on Syria, I wrote that one “likely result” of a salafi Sunni political surge in Syria would be “a new [Lebanese] civil war, with a beginning epicenter most like in and around Tripoli.” I didn’t realize how soon this would become apparent. Apparently, according to the Associated Press, battles broke out […]

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