On “Humanitarian Intervention”

I am old enough to remember when a “humanitarian intervention” meant organizing collections of food and blankets to send to distant communities in distress. Heck, in my elementary school in England we knitted little 6-inch squares to make up such blankets: they were taken away, sewn together, and delivered to the Red Cross by the … Continue reading On “Humanitarian Intervention”

Reviving Westphalia

It is a time of great uncertainty in international affairs. U.S. troops are deploying to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 16 years, presaging an increasingly probable showdown with Iran. The Anglosphere is likely to soon see a second, intensely nationalistic and straw-maned populist rise to the seat of government. The U.S. president has … Continue reading Reviving Westphalia

Global Power Shifts Sparked in Syrian Hornets’ Nest

This week, Mideast watchers have been breathlessly awaiting the arrival in NATO member Turkey of the first of the two batteries of Russian-made S-400 air defense systems that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan purchased from Russia in December 2017. Officials in the State and Defense Departments have warned that, with Turkey’s receipt of the S-400s, … Continue reading Global Power Shifts Sparked in Syrian Hornets’ Nest

Intriguing peace feeler from Turkey’s “PKK” Kurdish movement

On July 3, the Washington Post carried an intriguing op-ed from Cemil Bayik, whom it identified as “one of the five founders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK.)” The PKK is a militant movement of ethnic Kurds who are Turkish citizens and who make up a large portion of the population of Eastern Turkey. From … Continue reading Intriguing peace feeler from Turkey’s “PKK” Kurdish movement

The Ethics of Regime Change

Two detailed accounts have appeared recently of cloak-and-dagger operations undertaken by Western intelligence agencies to effect the defection of high-level officials of governments targeted for regime change. In his new book, Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family’s Lust for Power Destroyed Syria, journalist Sam Dagher recounts how, in 2012, French agents spirited … Continue reading The Ethics of Regime Change

Suez, Iran, and the perils of imperial over-reach

  Sixty-three years ago, a (possibly amphetamine-addled) British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, launched a military attack against a Middle Eastern country with the goal of provoking unrest that would topple its troublesome leader. Eden had conspired with others to create the pretext for the military attack. In the last days of October 1956, they swung … Continue reading Suez, Iran, and the perils of imperial over-reach

Did Assad Really Use Chemical Weapons in Douma?

Last month, a network of UK-based academics challenged allegations-which the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) officially corroborated on March 1-that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians in the outer Damascus suburb of Douma in April 2018. The challenge came in the form of a 15-page assessment, apparently prepared by a … Continue reading Did Assad Really Use Chemical Weapons in Douma?

The Real Plight of Idlib’s Civilians

In the northwest Syrian province of Idlib, three million civilians find themselves at the vortex of large-scale battles as the Syrian government and its allies seek to retake the area from the rebel forces that have controlled the region for nearly eight years. Idlib is now the beleaguered last redoubt within Syria of the armed … Continue reading The Real Plight of Idlib’s Civilians

Bob Bernstein and Human Rights Watch: A Mixed Record

Washington DC, May 28 — Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and a pioneering leader of the publishing company Random House, died earlier this week, aged 96. His passing provides a good opportunity to examine the role that HRW and its sometimes outspoken founder have played regarding the Palestinians’ pursuit of their fundamental human … Continue reading Bob Bernstein and Human Rights Watch: A Mixed Record

Bolton pushes United States to over-reach in Iran

Washington DC, May 14-In the 13 months since he became Pres. Trump’s national security adviser, the extreme hawk John Bolton has successfully ramped up Washington’s tensions with Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and to some extent also Syria. But in the case of Iran, he may have met his match, since Iran’s government has a broad … Continue reading Bolton pushes United States to over-reach in Iran