October 27, 2008

Lebanon’s Enemy Within

Israel is floating the idea of a non-aggression pact with Lebanon. It isn't at all likely to work. The odds are minuscule that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah will go along. But Lebanon will hold an election in a couple of months, and the offer of a non-aggression pact should play well with Lebanese voters who are uncomfortable with or hostile toward Hezbollah's vision of perpetual war with the

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:30 AM | Permalink | 43 Comments »

October 21, 2008

So Much for Azerbaijani Democracy

Last week Azerbaijan conducted another rigged election just a few short months after several government officials said to my face that this time things would be different.

Advisors to President Ilham Aliyev insisted that observers from the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe would fan out all over the country to monitor the election and even stop the process entirely if they detected fraudulent activity. All this was confirmed by the Israeli ambassador. Yet Aliyev was just

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:06 AM | Permalink | 2 Comments »

October 20, 2008

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden apparently didn't know reporters were in the room when he said this at a fundraiser in Seattle.

It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:30 AM | Permalink | 57 Comments »

October 18, 2008

A Compromise Solution

A few days ago I asked all you readers how I should spend my working hours during the next month before I return to Baghdad. The quandary was this: should I write and publish my remaining two dispatches from the Balkans, or spend a full month working on my book From Beirut to Baghdad? I have only written one chapter so far, and there will be nine or ten in the end.

A small majority voted for me to work on the book, and a large minority want the two dispatches. So I

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:24 AM | Permalink | 1 Comment »

October 17, 2008

Sending Iran’s Regrets

Senator Barack Obama hopes to be the first American president to engage in diplomatic negotiations with the Islamic Republic regime in Iran. He even says he's willing to meet with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions. Surely he must understand that what he's proposing is a radical departure from foreign policy as practiced by both parties. Franklin Roosevelt didn't meet with Adolf Hitler or Emperor Hirohito, Harry Truman didn't meet with Kim Il Sung, Ronald Reagan didn't meet with any Soviet leader until after glasnost and perestroika were in place, Bill Clinton didn't meet with Saddam Hussein or Iran's Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and no American president met with Fidel Castro.

In any case, whether Obama's wish to engage Ahmadinejad is mainstream or radical, and whether it's foolish or wise, may not even matter. It isn't likely to happen. Obama may not care about preconditions, but the Iranian governmentcertainly does. Mehdi Kalhor, Iran's Vice President for Media Affairs, told the Islamic Republic News Agency that "as long as U.S. forces have not left the Middle East region and continues its support for the Zionist regime, talks between Iran and U.S. is off the agenda."

Read the rest in COMMENTARY Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 10:45 AM | Permalink | 20 Comments »

October 15, 2008

A Serious Question

Some of you have signed up for recurring donations to help me pay for the dispatches I publish on this Web site. I'm working for you, and I need to consult you about something. I'm going back to Baghdad in a month or so and I need to figure out the best way to spend my working hours between now and then.

There are still a few dispatches that I haven't yet written from my recent trip to the Balkans. I went to the Balkans because I've been personally interested in the region for a long time and because I needed a break from the Middle East, but reader interest in the region seems to be lower than mine. I could write those remaining dispatches from Kosovo and publish them even though they're a bit less exciting than those from a place like Baghdad or Russian-occupied Georgia.

Alternately, I could spend the next month working on the book I've finally started to write. The working title is From Beirut to Baghdad, and it's a first-person narrative eye-witness account of revolution, terrorism, and war in Lebanon and Iraq. I don't have a publisher yet, but I do have an agent, and the book will be written and published one way or another

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 1:53 PM | Permalink | 22 Comments »

October 13, 2008

Resisting the United Nations

In Front of the Gate Vetevendosje.jpg

There is no love for the United Nations in Kosovo.

Kosovo is the fourth country I've visited where the UN has or has had a key role, and in only one of them

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:44 PM | Permalink | 21 Comments »

Coming Soon

Russia's invasion of Georgia disrupted my summer and fall schedule, so some of my dispatches are appearing a bit out of order. I still have three remaining from the Balkans. One is about my brief embed with the U.S. Army in Kosovo. Another is about the fate of Jews in the Albanian regions during the Holocaust. The first, which should be published later tonight, is about local resistance to the United Nations.

After these three are published, I'm going back to Iraq.

Stay tuned. The next dispatch is just about ready.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 1:52 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

October 8, 2008

The Forgotten War

Immediately following Russia's invasion of Georgia and its de-facto annexation of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the phrase

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 1:28 AM | Permalink | 24 Comments »
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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