Policy Digest: Foreign Policy Edition

  • In a number of radio interviews lately, I’ve been asked about Islamic State (IS), the jihadist force that has conquered patches of Iraq and Syria and beheaded Western journalists. A point that deserves more attention is that IS has its origins in the Iraqi insurgency. The emergence of IS, in my view, is another tragic confirmation that the U.S. “surge” in Iraq, hailed as a stroke of genius, was a failure. In chapter 6 of Winning the Unwinnable War, I write about the “surge,” what was wrong with it, and why it would encourage jihadists. Chapter 6 and 7 can now be read in PDF here. To get the book’s overarching argument, do pick up copy in Kindle or paperback. (If you already have, please consider sharing your opinion in a review on Amazon.com.)


  • Suppose you and some friends tape a music video riff on “Happy,” the hit song by Pharrell, and post it online. What’s the worst that could happen? Some snarky comments on YouTube, maybe some needling on Facebook. On the upside, you could have fun doing it, and perhaps the video goes viral. Six young Iranians did just that. Their video went viral. Their fate? They were arrested. Apparently an Iranian court found the six guilty of “participation in the making of a vulgar clip” and “illegitimate relations between members of the group.” The sentence: 6 months in jail and 91 lashes. (Yes, you read that right: lashes.) The sentence appears to have been suspended, so they may escape being whipped or doing jail time. That they were arrested and tried is emblematic of the totalitarian rule-by-intimidation and degree of control that the Islamist regime seeks to impose.