Cordesman’s Survey of Options for Iraq: A Bleak yet Still Too Optimistic Picture

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I will be on the “Sam Seder Show” on Air America Radio at 10:30 am EST today — chatting with Sam about all things foreign policy here from Vienna, Austria. But on a less optimistic note, take everything that the normally unsentimental, cold-eyed Anthony Cordesman writes below and worsen it by an order of magnitude. Then you get my view. Cordesman really does give the optimist’s last hope in the report he sent out today — and even that plants…

Hastings Out on Intel; Harman In?

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This news is partly good. Nancy Pelosi has dropped her bid for Alcee Hastings to chair the House Intelligence Committee. It’s unclear who she will now support, but it seems to me that Jane Harman must be the only genuine alternative and that moving to another potential chair could be quite politically dangerous for the new Speaker. The failure yet to publicly support Harman means Pelosi is extracting a price from Harman. One of the things Pelosi and others should…

Why Zelikow Departure is Really Bad

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I’m rushing, but I wanted to share this email I scribbled out this morning. It’s a bit blunt, says more than I perhaps should at this point — but Philip Zelikow‘s departure as Condi Rice’s Counselor is very bad for those hoping for a more enlightened Bush administration foreign policy course. This email was a response to one from a prominent social leader asking me if Zelikow was forced outi: I do not believe Zelikow was forced out. At some…

VIENNA Blog Bash

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It will probably be a small gathering — but those who want to meet me tomorrow morning in Vienna, Austria — I will be meeting some folks at about 11 am (at Cafe Central) (I might be a little late as I will be coming directly from the Airport). Political junkies, caffeine addicts, and Trotsky followers feel free to show up. There will be a table reserved — under Clemons, The Washington Note, or Embassy — not sure which. Got…

Coffee in Vienna

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I hear that Leon Trotsky used to hang out at the Cafe Central in Vienna. I will be arriving Wednesday morning in Vienna and departing Friday to participate in a conference on “The Role of Think Tanks in the Political Process of the EU and the US” sponsored by the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation. I don’t have a firm place or time yet, but I would be happy to join political junkies and blog-types on Wednesday afternoon or sometime Thursday….

On Sunday, Iraq War Longer than World War II

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Edward Luce and Demetri Sevastopulo have a thoughtful piece in the Financial Times anticipating the impact of the Iraq War narrative on the American psyche, particularly as of Sunday when the “Iraq War will enter its 1,347th day, thus overtaking the US’s involvement in the second world war.” Some key excerpts. The first on Bush’s unflagging self-delusion about the Iraq War: President Bush has made it plain that he still seeks victory in spite of almost universal scepticism that such…

Misdiagnosing an Evolved Realism in US Foreign Policy?

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The Financial Times‘ Philip Stephens published a very useful and interesting take on he rise of realism and fall of democracy-focused international idealism in U.S. foreign policy. Regrettably the article, “Democracy Falls Victim to Foreign Policy Realism,” is not available without registering and/or subscribing — but I still want to link it. (here is a link that does not require registration) Stephens characterizes “classic realism” quite well: Realism has many dimensions. At its simplest, it implies no more than a…

Israel-Palestine: Ignoring Opportunities When They Emerge

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This is a fascinating, sober piece by Harvard University’s Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou on Israel-Palestine problems that looks at Hamas as an evolving, “astute” political player that needs to be engaged one way or another in any new effort at regional deal-making in the Middle East. Here’s one section: Ignoring the general disposition of Hamas and its dogged political determination merely tells a story of intransigence feeding intransigence. For the insistence on treating this organization as a terrorist group obscures the…

Democracy at Gunpoint Turbo-Charges Grievances in Middle East

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Here is a decent UPI article capturing the essential themes of a program I participated in on Monday at the Hudson Institute titled “Is Democracy Good for the Middle East?” (audio version available here/MP3 download) I said a number of things which can be seen on C-Span’s coverage of the program, and which has been running this week — but essentially, in my view it is important to remember that democracy promotion needs to be organic and come from within…