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In Depth: Middle East

3 Mar 2008

In the Slums of Fallujah

Michael J. Totten's blog FALLUJAH, IRAQ — Captain Steve Eastin threw open the door to the Iraqi Police captain’s office and cancelled a joint American-Iraqi officer’s meeting before it could even begin. “Someone just shot at my Marines,” he said. “We ...

1 Mar 2008

The Ethics of Fleeing: What America Still Owes Iraq

The Iraq War has, or bids to, become a litmus test of political identity of the sort that Americans associate with the Vietnam War. We should all be troubled by this. Those of us who opposed the Vietnam War may have called it correctly, but it is important to recall the fates of the Vietnamese ...

FDR and GWB: Unlearned Lessons of a Wartime Presidency

George W. Bush claimed the attacks of September 11, 2001, would transform American thinking about the world. His model was Pearl Harbor, and he and his supporters routinely summoned the analogy to muster popular support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the effect of 9/11 has faded ...
28 Feb 2008

The Moderate Supermajority

Michael J. Totten's blog My Contentions colleague Abe Greenwald “takes a gloomy view”:http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/greenwald/2731 of a new Gallup survey that shows 93 percent of the world’s Muslims are moderates. “We need to find ...

25 Feb 2008

Guns in the Desert

Michael J. Totten's blog ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ — The Humvee slammed to a halt on the desert road between Fallujah and the town of Al Farris. I peered around the driver’s head from the back seat and tried to figure out what was happening. “Why are we ...

21 Feb 2008

The Arabs and Obama

Michael J. Totten's blog by Lee Smith (Editor’s note: While I’m filling in for Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, Lee Smith offered to write an article for us here. Lee is a friend I know from Beirut. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Village Voice ...

17 Feb 2008

The Dungeon of Fallujah

Michael J. Totten's blog “This is not Norway here, and it is not Denmark.” — Lebanese Forces militia leader Bashir Gemayel. FALLUJAH — Next to the Joint Communications Center in downtown Fallujah is a squalid and war-shattered warehouse for human ...

16 Feb 2008

We Are Not Creating More Terrorists

Michael J. Totten's blog According to the conventional wisdom in certain quarters, the war in Iraq is only creating more terrorists. As usual, “the conventional wisdom is wrong”:http://iraqpundit.blogspot.com/2008/02/sunni-extremism-is-now-in-retreat ...

14 Feb 2008

Obama Imitates Olmert

Michael J. Totten's blog Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has one of the lowest approval ratings in his country’s history thanks to his disastrous prosecution of the July 2006 war in Lebanon against Hezbollah. Nevertheless, and contrary to ...

11 Feb 2008

The Final Mission, Part III

Michael J. Totten's blog ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ — The United States plans to hand Anbar Province over to the Iraqis next month if nothing catastrophic erupts between now and then. The Marines will stick around a while longer, though, and complete their ...

9 Feb 2008

Lebanon’s Jumblatt Threatens War

Michael J. Totten's blog Just a few nights ago I said to some out of town friends that I thought another war, between Hezbollah and whichever adversary first decides to pick up the sword, is all but inevitable in Lebanon. I wish it weren’t so, but it ...

8 Feb 2008

Assad Suckers Obama

Michael J. Totten's blog Senator Barack Obama “went on the record”:http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=29687 about the never-ending political meltdown in Lebanon, and for a moment there I thought he might have it just right. “The ongoing ...

7 Feb 2008

Black Iraq Humor

Michael J. Totten's blog My sense of humor darkened considerably when I lived in Lebanon. Beirutis, especially, have learned to laugh at things that would make the average American suburbanite’s blood curdle. It’s a coping mechanism, and I acquired a ...

6 Feb 2008

Iraqi Civics and Car Bombs

Michael J. Totten's blog Bill Ardolino has published the first installment in a four part series at the Long War Journal about Iraqi politics based on dozens of interviews with major players. In an email, he writes, “This first installment is like an ...

2 Feb 2008

The Final Mission, Part II

Michael J. Totten's blog FALLUJAH — The United States military plans to formally hand over Anbar Province to the Iraqis this spring because the insurgency truly is finished in that part of the country. Most Americans have heard about the success in ...

29 Jan 2008

Libya’s Son

Michael J. Totten's blog Iraqi Police Colonel Jubair Rashid Naief claims Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam (whose name means Sword of Islam) is sponsoring a terrorist group in Northern Iraq called the Seifaddin Regiment. This group ...

26 Jan 2008

A Solution for Gaza

Michael J. Totten's blog My next piece from Fallujah will be published later today. I just need to do one final edit and upload the photos. In the meantime, David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy has “a great solution to the troubles in Gaza”:http: ...

The Final Mission, Part I

Michael J. Totten's blog FALLUJAH — At the end of 2006 there were 3,000 Marines in Fallujah. Despite what you might expect during a surge of troops to Iraq, that number has been reduced by 90 percent. All Iraqi Army soldiers have likewise redeployed ...

25 Jan 2008

Lebanon’s Terror War

Michael J. Totten's blog Captain Wissam Eid “was murdered by car bomb in East Beirut”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/26/world/middleeast/26lebanon.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin by someone who wasn’t happy with his investigation of the ...

Journalistic Malpractice

Michael J. Totten's blog Khaled Abu Toameh “busts reporters for collaborating with Hamas and staging photographs in Gaza”:http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2008/01/darkness-at-noon-msm-plays-along-with-ha/. This is really getting ridiculous, but ...

22 Jan 2008

While You’re Waiting

Michael J. Totten's blog I’ve had too many things to do all at once, but I’m almost caught up. The publishing schedule around here will be back to normal shortly. In the meantime, here are some worthwhile links to keep you busy. Noah Pollak posts a ...

15 Jan 2008

A Photo Gallery from Kuwait

Michael J. Totten's blog Here are some pictures from Kuwait to hold you over while I’m writing my next dispatch from Fallujah. Middle East Kuwait ...

13 Jan 2008

Hold Music

Michael J. Totten's blog While I’m working on long dispatches from the Middle East, and before they are ready to publish, what kind of “hold music” do you prefer in the meantime? What kind of “hold music” do you want? Excerpts from and links to ...

10 Jan 2008

The Bravery of Iraqis

Michael J. Totten's blog Iraqi Army soldiers have a terrible reputation for cowardice and corruption — especially in Baghdad — but it’s unfair to write them all off after reading the news out of Iraq’s capital Sunday. “Three Iraqi Army soldiers ...

6 Jan 2008

PJ Interviews with McCain and Giuliani

Michael J. Totten's blog I should have my next article from Fallujah published within the next day or so. This time you will hear from Iraqis, not Americans, as they discuss with me the invasion of their country, counterinsurgency, and Al Qaeda in ...

3 Jan 2008

Andrew Olmsted Killed In Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog Andrew Olmsted — active duty soldier, blogger, and writer for the Rocky Mountain News — was killed in Diyala Province, Iraq. I didn’t know Andrew personally, but I was familiar with his writing, and I feel like a hole has ...

28 Dec 2007

Iraq in Fragments

Michael J. Totten's blog COMMENTARY’s online editor Sam Munson asked if I’d like to write a short piece about what I think are the top five movies of 2007 from and about the Middle East. Sure, I said. But once I got started I found I couldn’t write ...

25 Dec 2007

A Fresh Look at Hezbollah

Michael J. Totten's blog I haven’t written much about Lebanon lately, partly because I’ve been working in Iraq, but also because Lebanon has been in a holding pattern for the past year. There isn’t much new to say about the same-old same-old. But ...

23 Dec 2007

A Nice Iraq Story for Christmas

Michael J. Totten's blog I am not going to post a war story for Christmas, so here’s a genuinely touching story from Iraq for a change. MAUSTON, Wis. – Capt. Scott Southworth knew he’d face violence, political strife and blistering heat when he was ...

20 Dec 2007

Merry Almost-Christmas

Michael J. Totten's blog It’s that time of year again. The holidays really seemed to come quickly for me this year because I spent most of the run-up time in Iraq. I have a long dispatch more than half-finished, but Internet traffic is crashing now ...

18 Dec 2007

Iraq is Not a Model

Michael J. Totten's blog By Jordan W. Editor’s note: Reader and regular correspondent Jordan W. asked for my opinion on an anti-war essay he wrote. I think it is much more valuable and worth taking seriously than most — though I should note that my ...

2 Dec 2007

New York Daily News Column

Michael J. Totten's blog I’ll have another dispatch here shortly, but in the meantime here’s a short piece of mine in the New York Daily News . FALLUJAH, IRAQ – In August, I wrote in these pages that it was too soon to judge Gen. David Petraeus’ ...

22 Nov 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Michael J. Totten's blog I would have written “Happy Thanksgiving” to all my American readers, but I have been embedded in joint Marine-Iraqi security stations in Fallujah very far from Internet access. So my holiday greeting is late. The Marines are ...

9 Nov 2007

Back from Vegas, Off to Fallujah

Michael J. Totten's blog I’m briefly home from the Blog World and New Media Expo in Las Vegas and will be leaving for Fallujah in less than 24 hours. Sorry I haven’t had much content here lately, but I’ve been busy and it has been difficult to find ...

4 Nov 2007

Hold Music

Michael J. Totten's blog Sorry for putting you all on “hold.” I’m packing for Fallujah and the Blog World Expo in Las Vegas at the same time. I hope at least to have another excerpt from House to House: An Epic Memoir of War by Staff Sergeant David ...

1 Nov 2007

Wizbang Blog Awards for 2007

Michael J. Totten's blog I have been nominated for the Best Middle East or Africa Blog award for 2007 at Wizbang . If you think mine is better than the other fine blogs in this category and decide to go on over there and vote for me , I promise not ...

31 Oct 2007

What the Army Wants You to See

Michael J. Totten's blog Here’s another piece of mine over at Commentary : Some colleagues, readers, and friends have suggested the dispatches I published from Iraq as an embedded reporter might not be reliable, even if true, because I only saw what ...

28 Oct 2007

An Act of Kindness from Iraq

Michael J. Totten's blog I have a new post up at the Commentary magazine blog : Iraqi Army officers in Besmaya raised a thousand dollars in donations for fire victims in San Diego, California, and the only place that seems to have reported the story ...

23 Oct 2007

Israeli Reporters Lap Up Syrian Propaganda

Michael J. Totten's blog Now that I’m briefly out of fresh material from Iraq (until I go back) I have a bit of time to return to one of my old beats. I start with the strange story of Israeli journalists repeating Syrian lies as possible fact in ...

13 Oct 2007

The Case for Kurdistan

Michael J. Totten's blog Azure magazine just published a long essay I wrote in early summer where I make the case for an independent American-backed Kurdistan in Northern Iraq on moral and strategic grounds. At the time I was slightly more ...

26 Sep 2007

MJT: The Jezebel Interview

Michael J. Totten's blog Strangest interview I’ve ever done, over at the online women’s magazine Jezebel . Welcome back to “That’s So Jane’s”, a really bad pun we use both as an homage to Jane/Jane’s Defence Weekly magazines and as an excuse to blog ...

23 Sep 2007

“Al Qaeda Lost”

Michael J. Totten's blog RAMADI, IRAQ — I met and interviewed dozens of Army officers in Baghdad and Ramadi, but none who were as admired and respected by the men who serve under them as much as 3rd Infantry Division Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman ...

18 Sep 2007

The Next Iranian Revolution is Available Online

Michael J. Totten's blog My feature article in the current issue of Reason magazine is now available online . In a green valley nestled between snow-capped peaks in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq is an armed camp of revolutionaries ...

17 Sep 2007

Anbar Awakens Part II: Hell is Over

Michael J. Totten's blog This is the second in a two-part series. Read Part One, The Battle of Ramadi, here . RAMADI, IRAQ — In early 2007 Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, was one of the most violent war-torn cities on Earth. By late ...

15 Sep 2007

Anbar the Model?

Michael J. Totten's blog Blowback is not just for Americans anymore . KUT, Iraq — American commanders in southern Iraq say Shiite sheiks are showing interest in joining forces with the U.S. military against extremists, in much the same way that Sunni ...

9 Sep 2007

Anbar Awakens Part I: The Battle of Ramadi

Michael J. Totten's blog RAMADI, IRAQ — After spending some time in and around Baghdad with the United States military I visited the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s notoriously convulsive and violent Anbar Province, and breathed an unlikely ...

4 Sep 2007

Stories from Anbar On the Way

Michael J. Totten's blog Blogging has been slow because I took some time off with my wife. She is leaving town for a few weeks starting this weekend, and because I’ve been in Iraq we have hardly seen each other. I’m writing again now, though, and ...

3 Sep 2007

The Next Iranian Revolution

Michael J. Totten's blog Reason Magazine just published an article I wrote this summer called The Next Iranian Revolution , about Kurdish Iranian exiles in Iraq plotting revolution against the regime of the Islamic Republic. There are two groups of ...

28 Aug 2007

In the New York Daily News

Michael J. Totten's blog The opinion page editor of the New York Daily News asked me to write an article for him and say whether I think the surge in Iraq is working or not. The truth is that it’s complicated, and I could easily write 10,000 words on ...

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