(My Middle East)

77 days with a journalist, Lebanon, and a list of non sequiturs

Archive for August 2009

Got what Eisenhower wished for

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I’m reading ‘Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA‘ by Tim Weiner. The book is incredible in scope and Weiner is ruthless in chronicling all of the miserable failures of the CIA (it’s entire existence according to Weiner). This quote on Allen Dulles, central intelligence director under Eisenhower pretty much sums up how hard Weiner lays into the CIA throughout the whole book.

Over the next eight years, through his devotion to covert action, his disdain for the details of analysis, and his dangerous practice of deceiving the president of the United States, Allen Dulles did untold damage to the agency he had helped to create.”

The book goes over the history of the CIA, which surprisingly enough only got its start after World War II. Theres a lot of history and lessons the country has already learned that seemed to have been forgotten. The most absurd one I’ve come across so far was Eisenhower on the Middle East:

“The president said he wanted to promote the idea of an Islamic jihad against godless communism. ‘We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect,’ he said at a September 1957 White House meeting…”

How preposterous this statement is made me laugh out loud. Think of how refreshing it would be if those ‘godless communists’ were the main global concern and not Islamic jihadists. It also raised two points that I’ve been thinking about lately.

1) The United States has created many of the opponents that it fights today

2) If you view conflict as zero-sum games, you are bound to replace one enemy with an even more desperate intractable foe.

Hopefully more to come on both of those soon.

Written by stephenddockery

August 18, 2009 at 4:02 am

Middle East Primer

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Carnegie Publications website

Carnegie Publications website

Whenever I started to work on a story in Lebanon I would think -how would I explain this to someone who knows little about this Middle East?- and then start writing. Its sometimes easy to forget that everyone doesn’t spend their day reading papers and articles about the region.But for those who want to take the next step to learning about the Middle East it can be daunting, there are so many names, dates and numbers that are used without explination its hard to get started.

I just finished Paul Salem’s (Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut)  “The Middle East: Evolution of a Broken Regional Order.” At a slim 21 pages it makes for a great brief to get an overview of the recent events that have created the current regional sitation. Definetly worth reading for those who need to get up to speed quickly,  are looking for a good place to start reading or just need some type of broad overview of the Middle East.

The Carnegie website has hundreds of their expert’s papers avaiable in full PDFs on their website.

The ones I plan on reading next:

Lebanon’s Sunni Islamists—A Growing Force Omayma Abdel-Latif

Algeria Under Bouteflika Civil Strife and National Reconciliation Rachid Tlemçani

Salafism and Radical Politics in Postconflict Algeria Amel Boubekeur

Salafi sm and
Radical Politics
in Postconfl ict

Written by stephenddockery

August 14, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Posted in Thoughts & Ideas

New chapter

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Apologies for not updating sooner, but my 77 days in Lebanon has finally come to a close. I got back to the states a few days ago and I’m finally over the jet lag today. I will definitely miss Lebanon; waking up in the suburbs isn’t quite as exciting as West Beirut. Hopefully I will get back to the region sooner rather than later. I’ll be heading back to Syracuse for my last year in a few weeks, and I’ll start applying for internships, fellowships and grad school (defense and policy studies) soon after.

As for this blog, I’m planning on keeping it running. While I can’t promise post-street clash coverage from Aisha Bakkar; I’m going to try to keep blogging on current events and my recent foreign policy readings.  I’m also going to finish out the last two book reviews of the summer in the next week (The Inheritance, Sanger and The Great War for Civilization, Fisk).

Thanks for reading.

Written by stephenddockery

August 12, 2009 at 1:12 am

Posted in Thoughts & Ideas