A surprisingly beautiful mandrill at the Melbourne Zoo. From the Daily Mail of the UK.
UP-FRONT FOREIGN POLICY NUGGET!!
Lessons from Iraq's 'Day of Rage' (Paul Pillar) from the National Interest
"The Iraqi nightmare continues. Eight long years and this is what America has to show for its democratization effort. A sign of what's to come."
UK Officials Tell Gaddafi Loyalists to Defect or Face War Crimes Trial from the Guardian [of the UK]
"British officials are contacting senior Libyan regime figures directly to persuade them to desert Muammar Gaddafi or face trial alongside him for crimes against humanity, the Guardian has learned. With SAS troops and paratroopers on standby to rescue an estimated 150 Britons at workplaces in the Libyan desert, contingency measures were being drawn up to close the British embassy in Tripoli to pre-empt possible reprisals."
Friday a Day of Protests in the Middle East (VIDEO) from the Global Post
"Residents of other Middle Eastern capitals took to the streets, claiming solidarity with Libyans in their stand against Muammar Gaddafi and voicing complaints against their own leaders."
Mideast Policy: The Case for Sitting on Our Hands (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"Dear world, sorry about the last 10 years. Peter Beinart on how the new wave of Mideast revolts may finally be ending America’s wasteful war on terror—and why it would have been smarter not to intervene in the first place."
Our on-the-money pundit-of-the-day!!
The Obama Doctrine At Last? (Andrew Roberts) from the Daily Beast
"After two years in office it seems that President Obama has finally found a foreign policy doctrine says Andrew Roberts, but the trick will be sticking to it when the going gets tough like in Libya."
Given the extraordinary inconstancy of the 'Bush Doctrine', it's worth questioning the value of this kind of foreign policy "short-hand."
Oman Joins Protest Wave, and 2 Die in Clashes with Police from the New York Times
"Oman, the normally quiet sultanate along the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, joined the wave of two-month-old political protests shaking the Arab world on Sunday, as hundreds of demonstrators clashed with the riot police in the northeast port city of Sohar. Oman’s state news agency, ONA, said two protesters were killed."
For those like me who had no idea even where Oman was, here is this aid:
As Regimes Fall in Arab World, Al Qaeda Sees History Fly By from the New York Times
"For nearly two decades, the leaders of Al Qaeda have denounced the Arab world’s dictators as heretics and puppets of the West and called for their downfall. Now, people in country after country have risen to topple their leaders — and Al Qaeda has played absolutely no role."
These folks, their day is done. Suicide bombing is what people do when they feel they have NO CHOICE. It is now clear with anyone with eyes that there ARE other choices -- ones that may actually be WAY MORE EFFECTIVE!
In Lebanon, Hezbollah is Watching, and Waiting Out, the Arab Uprisings (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"Hezbollah appears to realize that the revolt sweeping the Middle East has subtly changed the game for them. Officials see the Arab world moving into a more democratic and pluralistic politics with the fall of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and perhaps Libya. In this new environment, Hezbollah doesn't want to be seen as a sectarian militia or a wrecker, but as a democratic partner (albeit a potent one that has thousands of missiles pointed at Israel)."
Understanding Saudi Stability and Instability: A Very Different Nation (Anthony Cordesman) from the Center for Strategic and International Studies
"More secular Saudi intellectuals and youth are already calling for more rapid reform. In today’s Middle East, some demonstrations seem inevitable in every country, and no one can guarantee Saudi Arabia’s future stability in a time of turmoil. At the same time, there good reasons to hope that Saudi Arabia will continue on the path to peaceful reform and change."
The Islamic Republic of Talibanistan (Saleem Ali) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Why the West should stop fighting with the Taliban for hearts and minds, and start letting the Islamists try their hand at governing."
This is quite risky -- but I think this author is on to something. If the Middle East and east of the Persian Gulf are experiencing a wave of democratic revolutions AND given that we have not been able to materially improve the climate for better governance in Afghanistan or Pakistan, perhaps the best we can hope for is for the Taliban and their crowd to be the ones that have to deal with this democratic wave. On the other hand, it is my sense that, as inspired as many average Afghanis are by what has happened in Egypt, all they want at this point is stability and an end to the wanton killing. My suspicion is that (ultimately) we will have little choice in the matter concerning whether the Taliban will have a big role in governing or not.
Is North Korea Next? (Lee Byong-Chul) from The Diplomat
"Kim Jong-il’s regime has been censoring reports of unrest in the Arab world. It’s a sign of how worried his regime is about its survival."
I doubt if they have anything genuine to worry about (at least in the short or medium term). I've been reading the national book award nominee, Nothing to Envy about life in North Korea (an EXCELLENT read on the subject!). The North Korean population is in no shape to SERIOUSLY oppose the regime there.
An in-case-you-missed-it nugget:
Barak: Assad Ready to Consider Israel-Syria Peace Deal from Al Haaretz [of Israel in English]
"Defense minister says that if Syrian president will reach out to Israel, he will find a willing partner, also says Israel must strengthen peace efforts with Palestinians."
Now -- what stars does Barak think have suddenly aligned to cause this pronouncement? Why does he think Syria would suddenly be receptive to these overtures after so many decades of dithering? Hmmm.
America Primed (Robert D. Kaplan, Stephen S. Kaplan) from the National Interest
"To write America’s great-power obituary is beyond premature. Herein lies a grand strategy for maintaining US power—from the Anglosphere to the Middle East."
Cyberspace Wars (Joseph Nye) from the New York Times
"The cyber-domain is a volatile manmade environment. As an advisory panel of defense scientists explained, “people built all the pieces,” but “the cyber-universe is complex well beyond anyone’s understanding and exhibits behavior that no one predicted, and sometimes can’t even be explained well.”"
Public Employees Not Such an Easy Scapegoat After All (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"As the Wisconsin standoff continues, it's worth stepping back and considering an underappreciated but heartening aspect of this whole affair: Public employees are turning out to be far harder to scapegoat in the public mind than many predicted. This was anything but assured."
States’ Right: Republican Governors are Leading a Frontal Assault on President Obama’s Agenda (Ronald Brownstein) from National Journal
"Whatever the governors’ motivations (one man’s posturing, after all, is another man’s principle), their unreserved enlistment into Washington’s wars marks a milestone. It creates a second line of defense for conservatives to contest Obama even after he wins battles in Congress. It tears another hole in the fraying conviction that state capitals are less partisan than Washington. And it creates a precedent that is likely to encourage more guerrilla warfare between Democratic governors and a future Republican president. American politics increasingly resembles a kind of total war in which each party mobilizes every conceivable asset at its disposal against the other. Most governors were once conscientious objectors in that struggle. No more. "
Why Wouldn’t the Tea Party Shut It Down? (Frank Rich) from the New York Times
"NO one remembers anything in America, especially in Washington, so the history of the Great Government Shutdown of 1995 is being rewritten with impunity by Republicans flirting with a Great Government Shutdown of 2011. The bottom line of the revisionist spin is this: that 2011 is no 1995. Should the unthinkable occur on some coming budget D-Day — or perhaps when the deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling arrives this spring — the G.O.P. is cocksure that it can pin the debacle on the Democrats"
DNC Chairman: 'We're Going to Play for the Big Win' in 2012 Election from The Hill
"Kaine, speaking to party members in Washington at the DNC's Winter Meeting, said that the president's reelection would kick off sometime in the second quarter of 2011. That campaign wouldn't be looking, though, to eke out just enough electoral votes to put Obama over the top. "We're going to play for the big win," Kaine told DNC members, to cheers. "We're going to play in every corner of this country.""