Showing posts from May, 2006

Neocons for Hillary?

They'll always be with us..."Are the Neocons Migrating Left?" asks The Washington Realist who posts an interesting op-ed by Jacob Heilbrunn who writes that: DON'T LOOK now, but neoconservatism is making a comeback — and not among the Republicans who have made it famous but in the Democratic Party.
A host of pundits and young national security experts associated with the party are calling for a return to the Cold War precepts of President Truman to wage a war against terror that New Republic Editor Peter Beinart, in the title of his provocative new book, calls "The Good Fight."
The fledgling neocons of the left are based at places such as the Progressive Policy Institute, whose president, Will Marshall, has just released a volume of doctrine called "With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty." Beinart's book is subtitled "Why Liberals — and Only Liberals — Can Win the War on Terror and Make Amer…

At the Movies

Andy Garcia's The Lost City, an homage to his native Cuba during the revolutionary late-1950s is Dr. Zhivago -- a (very, very) long historical epic in which families and friendships are torn by a revolution -- meets Casablanca -- a non-political/anti-hero figure who also happens to own a night-club (played by Garacia), who falls in love with the wife of a political hero and is forced to take a stand and fight -- meets The Year of living Dangerously -- -- political drama taking place in a third world country engulfed by intrigues, coups, assassinations, etc. -- meets The Godfather II -- a movie about gangsters in Havana in the 1950's with a Meir Lansky character (played here by Dustin Hoffman) -- meets Cabaret -- yes, there is a cabaret and great musical numbers and all that decadence about to be swept away by violence and the rise of evil. Evil like in Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.And it's refreshing to watch a movie that doesn't romansticize these two despicable cha…

Syria: The Promised Land?

It's not. But the interesting SyriaComment blog which is run by academic/Syria expert Joshua Landis posted a Chicago Tribune report Fearful Iraqis seek haven in Syria which highlights Syria's role as a magnet to Iraqi refugees:
Three-month visas are routinely issued to Iraqis, and so are multiple extensions. Iraqis cannot receive work permits, but they can receive free health care and schooling.
"It's a shifting population--people come and people go--but it's amazing that Syria has been able to absorb them all," said a Western diplomat who has watched the war.
Even Human Rights Watch, which criticizes Syria's treatment of reform advocates, has praised the country's openness. In recent weeks in particular, Syria has shown empathy for Palestinian refugees as well.
"Middle East governments should follow Syria's example in accepting refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence in Iraq," the organization said in a statement.
Syria is run by an aut…

war blogs

If Onion magazine would do a parody of the war blogs, it would look like this. And who knew that Olmert's address to Congress could could produce a, well, "similar point of intensity of emotional excitement".

Dealing with North Korea; Why not with Iran?

Who would you prefer to see your daugther dating? and posted today my commentary, "Why Can't the US Apply Its New North Korea Policy to Iran?" which was published in the Sinagpore Business Times: May 25, 2006
Why Can't the US Apply Its New North Korea Policy to Iran?
by Leon Hadar
The conventional historical narrative of U.S. President George W. Bush's foreign policy has traced the ascendancy of the neoconservative ideologues in his administration to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the ensuing war in Iraq. The common assumption among analysts is that if it were not for the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the current White House's approach toward the world would have followed the more traditional internationalist stance adopted by former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush.
Moreover, most observers assume that the foreign policy hardliners in the Bush administration have focused most of their att…

reviews of "Sadstorm"

A review of my book, Sadnstorm has appeared in the May issue of Chronicles. It was written by historian Michael Stenton and it's not available online. And Diane Warth has also posted a critique of the book on her blog, karmalised.

The Blogosphere vs. The Neo-Comintern

Kudos toJim Henley for deconstructing the most recent disinformation campaign launched by the neo-comintern . Amir Taheri was apparently the driving force behind spreading the false reports that the Iranian parliament passed a law that envisages separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public, starting with an article he authored for National Post of Canada. He is seen above with his publicist Eleana Benador who also represents all the other Usual Suspects, the intellectauls who neoconservative movement and its many think tanks, media organs and other satellites. It's kind of ironic that Taheri is also an author of an article titled The Boom in Conspiracy Theories in which he criticizes journalists for their "intellectual laziness" and attacks those "investigative journalists", hacks who make up stories on the basis of rumors leaked by un-named &…

Interesting article on the Iran nuclear issue in the National Journal

Paul Starobin authored a very interesting and long article On Mullahs and MADness in the new issue of the National Journal which asks: What happens if Iran got the Bomb? Paul interviewed me and quotes me on the topic:How Deterrence Could Work
In thinking about a new deterrence structure, some analysts advocate a global approach in which nuclear states -- including the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- would in effect cover the greater Middle East region with a protective nuclear umbrella. The proposition would be simple: If the mullahs use or even threaten to use nukes, they would face the prospect of retaliation from these powers. "I think that would make a powerful deterrent," said a leading backer of this tack, Harlan Ullman, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a former commander of a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Persian Gulf. Perhaps even a treaty could …

On the declining U.S. dollar

My commentary on the issue that was published in the Business Times of Singapore:

Business Times - 19 May 2006

DECLINING dollar reflects US policy failure


THE conventional wisdom in Washington is that President George W Bush hasn't been rewarded politically for a mostly booming US economy. Indeed, his approval rating in the public opinion polls is now somewhere in the low 20s, despite the fact that the indicators reflecting the resilience of the US economy - inflation (low), interest rates (relatively low), consumer spending (relatively high), unemployment (relatively low) - should have helped transform the current White House occupant into a popular president.

Most pundits explain that paradox by suggesting that Mr Bush's policy failures in Iraq and in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, a series of scandals involving officials and Republican lawmakers, and recent rising energy costs have counteracted any positive effect that the booming econo…

Who said: "He might be an SOB, but he is our SOB"? And who was "He"?

I received an angry email from someone who has read my earlier Gadhafi: He might be an SOB, but he is our SOB:Hi Leon,
I wiped you off my mental list of readable writers when you referred to Gadhafi as an SOB.
Tom Lowe
Borrego Springs, CAOuch! That hurt.
Well, Tom...I couldn't believe it the day that you left
Cleaned out your closet, cleared off your shelves
Loaded your car and you drove out of sight
But I never said goodbye
I'll never say goodbye
The door's always open, I leave on a light
I'm always waiting in case you drop by
I'll never say goodbye (read the rest of
Dolly Parton's I'll Never Say Goodbye. Now.. seriously. Tom, someone your age should be familiar with, you know, famous sayings in U.S. history, including that "Our SOB" quote. There is, however, a debate among historians about who actually said "He might be an SOB, but he is our SOB" and who he was referring to. Here are the choices:
1. FDR said that about Trujillo, th…

Tom ("Six Months") Friedman

Thanks to Dr.Strauss for drawing my attention to a report issued by Fair (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting):Tom Friedman's Flexible Deadlines
Iraq's 'decisive' six months have lasted three and a half years


New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman is considered by many of his media colleagues to be one of the wisest observers of international affairs. "You have a global brain, my friend," MSNBC host Chris Matthews once told Friedman (4/21/05). "You're amazing. You amaze me every time you write a book."

Such praise is not uncommon. Friedman's appeal seems to rest on his ability to discuss complex issues in the simplest possible terms. On a recent episode of MSNBC's Hardball (5/11/06), for example, Friedman boiled down the intricacies of the Iraq situation into a make-or-break deadline: "Well, I think that we're going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is p…

Gadhafi: He might be an SOB, but he is our SOB

Now... if Castro had a nuclear program we might have been opening an embassy in Havana...

Tony Karon in Rootless Cosmpolitan challenges the conventional wisdomabout ourour new love affair: If President Bush’s immigration speech was an attempt to divert attention from his failures in Iraq, then Condi Rice’s announcement this week that the U.S. would restore diplomatic ties with Libya — and that Iran and North Korea should take note — may have been a useful distraction of attention from the fact that in the course of a single week, she’d suffered two significant diplomatic setbacks (on the quest for Iran sanctions and on the attempt to financially throttle the Palestinian Authority). Most of the media seemed to lap up her explanation that Libya had been suddenly cowed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq into renouncing terrorism, WMD and seeking to rehabilitate itself in the international community.
That revisionist account, of course, ignores the fact that Libya had been strenuously attempting…

At the (Great!) Movies

I saw Jean-Pierre Melville's epic Army of Shadows for the first time in the early 1970's in my "French period," that is, when I was for all practical purposes addicted to the French cinema (Godard, Truffaut, Louis Malles, Alain Resnais, Agnes Varda, etc). This is a very cool historical film noir has been newly restored and released in the U.S. for the first time and so I had an opportunity to see it again this week. What can I say? A stunning mastepiece by a master director (Le Cercle Rouge; Bob Le Flambeur; Le Samourai)and starring Lino Ventura, Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, and Claude Mann. It's about members of a Resistance cell in German-occupied France (it opens with a shot of German soldiers marching down the Champs-Elysees). Nick Schager in Slant magazine captures the central theme of the movie: As with so many of Melville's noirs, doom lies in wait for those reckless or foolish enough to deviate from their prescribed obligations and loyalties, and …

My review of "The Peace of Illusions" in the American Conservative

My review of Chris Layne's The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present (Cornell University Press) has been published the new issue of the American Conseravtive (June 5, 2006). It's not available online yet. But if you click on the next three images, you'll be able to read it:

On July 1st Bush's approval hits another low: 23

That is, the 23 members of the Bush Family...

U.S. and Iran: Negotiating?

That's probably the question being asked now by leading intelligence agencies and news organizations as they search for some signs through the current heavy "diplomatic fog." In a long article Target: Tehran?By placing Iran on the Axis of Evil, Bush made an enemy of a would-be allypublished in Novemeber 2004 I proposed that Bush follow the footsteps of another hawkish Republican President who once upon a time surprised the world by going to Red China and that he launch a diplomatic opening to Iran. Indeed, the following sounds as though it has been written today:At a time when the ideologues in the Bush administration and Congress, encouraged by the powerful Israeli lobby, are calling for another regime change—this time in Tehran as part of a crusade to bring democracy to the region—while the anti-American mullahs are strengthening their hold on power, a U.S.-Iran détente sounds more like science fiction than serious analysis.
But the opening of China was conceived and e…

Dusty Springfield and the Bush Legacy

My analysis/predictions re the last years of the Bush era, published originally in The Business Timeswere posted today on and 11, 2006
Bush's Slow Race
in the Last Lap
What will he do to save his legacy?
by Leon Hadar
Most of us are familiar with the saying: "Time flies when you're having fun." After all, five hours of flight turbulence feels much longer than five hours on a beach resort. In fact, scientists have demonstrated that patterns of activity in the brain tend to accelerate in response to positive emotional stimulation, and vice versa.
That perhaps explains why during the booming 1990s time seemed to have passed without us noticing it, and why, on the other hand, the next three years of the Bush administration will probably seem to drag and drag.
Indeed, the NBC comedy show Saturday Night Live recently featured a (make-believe) President George W. Bush sitting in the (make-believe) Oval Office and admitting to his (make-believe) …

Brokeback Ahmadinejad: Sealed with a Kiss

Nope. That secret letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to U.S. President George W. Bush was not entirely about nuclear issues. It read: "Georgie; We could had a good life together, a f------ real good life but you didn't want it, so what we got now... is the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz!I wish I knew how to quit you. And Tho we gotta say goodbye for the summer,darling, I promise you this: It's gonna be a hot nuclear summer. I with my silos and you with your long cruise missile. I'll see your bombers in the sunlight. I'll hear them everywhere. I'll run to tenderly hold you.But darling you won't be there.I don't wanna say goodbye for the summer. Knowing the love we'll miss. Oh let us make a pledge to meet in September. And seal it with a kiss. Your Nejadi... (and thanks to Brian Hyland)

Realism on Israel

There is, in principle, a different vision of realism available to Israel, which would not rely on the destruction of rivals and the permanence of American alliance. Israel could reverse 40 years of policy and look for security in withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, serious negotiations to create a viable Palestinian state, and settlement of the territorial and refugee issues.
However, I would imagine that few Israelis now believe in this possibility, after the acts of terrorism and all the blood that has been shed during the past 60 years, even though many may wish for it.
After the Jewish experience during World War II and since, I would think that little ability survives to trust in the good will of others. Certainly not trust in the Arabs. Certainly not trust in the Europeans. In the case of the Americans, it is not good will that has to be trusted, but American willingness to believe that American and Israeli interests really do coincide - despite the fact that th…

Punditry circa 2015..

(According to the British National Party...)

Dr. Strauss has been the inspiration and role-model for my blog. Checkouthis latest exchange with a reader. Apropos 2015. Did you know that on September 9if Queen Elizabeth II is still alive, she will become the longest-reigning monarch in British History, surpassing Queen Victoria?.


"Old Friends"

Checkout Billmon's Whiskey Bar on Porter's resignation inCIA Confidential. And read why I think that Intelligence Services Are Not `Intelligent'. Finally, six recommended spy novels: Eric Ambler'sThe Mask of Dimitrios; Graham Greene's The Third Man: Alan Furst's Dark Star; Charles McCarry's The Tears of Autumn; John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy ; Len Deighton's Berlin Game. I would recommend reading everything by Ambler, Greene, Le Carre, and Furst (a relatively new author who has written great stuff using Nazi-occuppied Europe, epsecially Paris, during WWII as backdrop). As far as Deighton and McCarry, I would recommend their earlier novels. The more recent ones are not so good.

The phony "oil crisis"

I'm not an oil/energy expert (although I'm interested in global political-economic apsects of the issue; and I do own a not-a-red-sport car). But Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute makes a lot of sense when it comes this topic and that is why I quote him in the following commentary (online access to the Business Times is restricted; so I'm pasting the entire piece here):

Business Times - 05 May 2006
Ending US 'oil crisis': consumers hold the key
LET us get one thing straight: the United States is not going through an 'oil crisis'. But that certainly is the impression you will get watching American television and listening to yet another speech by a US lawmaker urging Washington to 'take action' to punish the greedy ExxonMobil executives and come to the help of the struggling American energy consumer filling the gasoline tank of his oversized SUVs.
(And notice that the owner of the SUV is not complaining that the p…

The A-- Hole vs. The Pompous A--

Who is Who?

And who cares?

Richard Cohen, who is on my very short list of writers whose column I continue to read and who argues today in a piece in the Washington Post that Stephen Colbert was "so no funny" in the recent WHCAD (I disagree), describes the blogsphere as a place where you're supposed to be telling like-minded people what they already know and alienating all the others. (read more) Since my guess is that those who like (worship)Christopher Hitchens don't like (despise) Juan Cole (and vice versa), what I'm about to do ensures that I'll be alienating two powerful constituencies on the blogsphere. So be it! But perhaps there are two or three people out there who share my lack of admiration for these two individuals who seem to be engaged is some kind of a King Kong vs. Godzilla battle (see above; and my apologies to Kong and Godzi for the comparison) that has been the main topic of discussion on their respective admirers' and detractors'blogs…

"24" as a metaphor (and it rhymes)

Dr. Strauss on Stop The Spirit Of Zossen ponders the relationship between our popular culture and foreign policy with a special focus on "United 93" and "24" after watching Agent Bauer hijack a plane:All the more reason to be jarred then to come home and watch a recording of last night's “24”. There, Jack Bauer stowed aboard an airplane, attacked the federal marshal and stole his gun. Bauer then stormed the passenger section, pointing the gun at terrified passengers promising he would shoot them. All the more reason to be stunned when Bauer grabs a stewardess and hauls her terrified down an aisle. In the name of national security and the “good guys”.
An interesting bookend to the earlier experience. Here was mass American entertainment clearly comfortable depicting and inverting the United 93 scenario into a transgressive Bauer moment. At first the thought arose immediately and unbidden, 'is this somehow right?' The emotions from United 93 were s…