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Assessing the Iran Deal
July 14, NewsMax

The Iran Deal Is 'Bizarre' and 'Wretched'
July 14, NewsMax, The Steve Malzberg Show

As the Iran Nuclear Deal Edges Closer
July 13, CTV News

Michael Oren Interviewed by Daniel Pipes
June 24, FrontPageMag.com

A Sea of Horrors, But Wisps of Hope in the Middle East
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The Greatest Threat to the United States?
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Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes   RSS 2.0 Feed

Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare – and Me

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 22, 2015

Two associate professors of political science at San Diego State University, Emanuele Saccarelli and Latha Varadarajan, argue in their new book, Imperialism Past and Present (Oxford University Press), that "western [sic] imperialism did not end with the close of colonialism, but continues to define international relations today." In support of this hackneyed leftist argument, the authors rely, almost predictably, on Edward Said. In turgid academese, they explain The Master's views (on pp. 68-69):

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How Israel Might Destroy Iran's Nuclear Program

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 16, 2015

The Vienna deal has been signed and likely will soon be ratified, which raises the question: Will any government intervene militarily to stop the nearly inevitable Iranian nuclear buildup?

Obviously it will not be the American or Russian governments or any of the other four signatories. Practically speaking, the question comes down to Israel, where a consensus holds that the Vienna deal makes an Israeli attack more likely. But no one outside the Israeli security apparatus, including myself, knows its intentions. That ignorance leaves me free to speculate as follows.

Three scenarios of attack seem possible:

Aerial. Airplanes crossed international boundaries and dropped bombs in the 1981 Israeli attack on an Iraqi nuclear installation and in the 2007 attack on a Syrian one, making this the default assumption for Iran. Studies show this to be difficult but attainable. Alternatively, bombs can be delivered via rockets.

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Obama's Iran Deal Has the Makings of a Catastrophe

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 14, 2015  •  National Review Online

Barack Obama has repeatedly signaled during the past six and a half years that that his No. 1 priority in foreign affairs is not China, not Russia, not Mexico, but Iran. He wants to bring Iran in from the cold, to transform the Islamic Republic into just another normal member of the so-called international community, ending decades of its aggression and hostility.

In itself, this is a worthy goal; it's always good policy to reduce the number of enemies. (It brings to mind Nixon going to China.) The problem lies, of course, in the execution.

The conduct of the Iran nuclear negotiations has been wretched, with the Obama administration inconsistent, capitulating, exaggerating, and even deceitful. It forcefully demanded certain terms, then soon after conceded these same terms. Secretary of State John Kerry implausibly announced that we have "absolute knowledge" of what the Iranians have done until now in their nuclear program and therefore have no need for inspections to form a baseline. How can any adult, much less a high official, make such a statement?

The administration misled Americans about its own concessions: After the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action, it came out with a factsheet which Tehran said was inaccurate. Guess who was right? The Iranians. In brief, the U.S. government has shown itself deeply untrustworthy.

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Turkey's Unimportant Election

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 5, 2015  •  The Washington Times

Almost every assessment of the national parliamentary election to take place in Turkey on June 7 rates it among the most important in the republic's nearly century old history. The New York Times deems it "crucial" and the London Daily Telegraph "pivotal." Huffington Post calls it "the biggest election" in the republic's history. The Financial Times declares that "Turkey's future is at stake."

But I disagree. I see it among the least important of Turkey's elections. Here's why:

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I Give Up: There Is No Terrorism, There Are No Terrorists

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 2, 2015

When the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the world's largest news operation, decided in January not to call the Charlie Hebdo attackers terrorists, this made an impression on me. The head of the BBC Arabic service, Tarik Kafala, explained its reasoning:

Terrorism is such a loaded word. The UN has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can't. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That's much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.

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That Failed Philadelphia "Islamic Jew-Hatred" Bus Ad

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 27, 2015  •  Philadelphia Inquirer

Did a controversial, austere, black-and-white advertisement that ran for one month on Philadelphia buses achieve its goal of winning sympathy for Jewish victims of Muslims?

The ad was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and placed on buses of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a regional-and-state-run authority. The ad read: "Islamic Jew-Hatred: It's in the Quran. Two thirds of all US aid goes to Islamic countries. Stop the hate. End all aid to Islamic countries. IslamicJewHatred.com." A November 1941 photograph ran with the caption, "Adolf Hitler and his staunch ally, the leader of the Muslim world, Haj Amin al-Husseini." SEPTA received $30,000 to run the 30-by-80 inch ad on 84 buses out of SEPTA's 1,400 buses during April.

No, the ad failed to achieve its goal, and spectacularly so. Count the ways:

To begin with, the text is factually inaccurate. Amin al-Husseini was never "leader of the Muslim world." He was a British appointee in the Mandate for Palestine, where Muslims constituted less than 1 percent of the total world Muslim population.

Second, Husseini's meeting with Hitler did not represent a permanent or universal alliance between Muslims and Nazis; it was a one-time, opportunistic consultation between a fugitive Palestinian figure and his patron.

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ISIS Attacks the West

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 22, 2015  •  The Washington Times

The May 3 assault on a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, prompted much discussion about the assailants' connections to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh. Did ISIS run them as agents? Are they part of a new network of terror in the West?

Clearly, the Garland jihadis had some connections to ISIS. The leader, Elton Simpson, used Twitter to trade calls for violence with Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan (also known as Mujahid Miski), 25, an ISIS recruiter who grew up in Minneapolis. On April 23, Hassan tweeted: "The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part. It's time for brothers in the US to do their part," attaching a Breitbart.com story about the Muhammad cartoon contest. This appears to be what brought the Garland event to Simpson's attention; Simpson retweeted this call to action and responded: "When will they ever learn. They are planning on selecting the best picture drawn of [Muhammad] in Texas." Hassan then further goaded Simpson: "One individual is able to put a whole nation onto its knees."

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What Syrian Chemical Weapons Reveal about Obama

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 19, 2015  •  FoxNews.com

The famed "red line" warning that Barack Obama issued in August 2012 to Bashar al-Assad of Syria was arguably the defining foreign policy moment of his presidency: an unequivocal warning to a rogue leader to desist from war crimes or pay the price.

When Assad's crossing of this red line a year later ended in a blur, with Russian-backed promises that the Assad regime would hand over its chemical agents, responses were bifurcated. The president and his allies hailed this as a monument of diplomacy, whereby a plausible threat led bloodlessly to a major improvement in behavior. In contrast, critics presented Obama as a paper tiger who raged with threats that collapsed when offered meaningless assurances by a well-established liar.

For two years, there was no verdict; the two sides kept making their points without closure. But now, closure is at hand.

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The Middle East Runs out of Water

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 8, 2015  •  The Washington Times

A ranking Iranian political figure, Issa Kalantari, recently warned that past mistakes leave Iran with water supplies so insufficient that up to 70 percent, or 55 million out of 78 million Iranians, would be forced to abandon their native country for parts unknown.

Many facts buttress Kalantari's apocalyptic prediction: Once lauded in poetry, Lake Urmia, the Middle East's largest lake, has lost 95 percent of its water since 1996, going from 31 billion cubic meters to 1.5 billion. What the Seine is to Paris, the Zayanderud was to Isfahan – except the latter went bone-dry in 2010. Over two-thirds of Iran's cities and towns are "on the verge of a water crisis" that could result in drinking water shortages; already, thousands of villages depend on water tankers. Unprecedented dust storms disrupt economic activity and damage health.

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Today's Iran Debate Misses the Point

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 7, 2015

While hugely important in terms of Iranian relations with the outside world, U.S.-Israel relations, and Barack Obama's relations with Congress, the labored, contradictory, and unspecific Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has little bearing on whether the mullahs do or do not get nuclear weapons. Let me explain:

If one assumes, as one should, that the Iranian leadership is determined to build a nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver it, then the economic issues (sanctions, boycotts, embargoes) that drive the P5+1 negotiations are tangential. They affect the speed, cost, and difficulty of building an arsenal, but do not impede its ultimate realization.

The only way to stop Iran's program is by using force, presumably by attacking its nuclear infrastructure from the air. Yet this prospect, now marginalized as the "war option" in contrast with two years ago, is no longer discussed.

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Decoding the Obama Doctrine

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 6, 2015  •  The Washington Times

James Jeffrey, Barack Obama's former ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq, has this to say about the administration's current record in the Middle East: "We're in a goddamn free fall."

Count the mistakes: Helping overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, leading to anarchy and civil war. Pressuring Husni Mubarak of Egypt to resign, then backing the Muslim Brotherhood, leading now-president Sisi to turn toward Moscow. Alienating Washington's most stalwart ally in the region, the Government of Israel. Dismissing ISIS as "junior varsity" just before it seized major cities. Hailing Yemen as a counterterrorism success just before its government was overthrown. Alarming the Saudi authorities to the point that they put together a military alliance against Iran. Coddling Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, encouraging his dictatorial tendencies. Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan prematurely, dooming the vast American investment in those two countries.

And, most of all: Making dangerously flawed deals with the nuclear-ambitious mullahs of Iran.

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How Much Can Air Power Achieve?

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 6, 2015

Suddenly, wherever you look in the greater Middle East, you find air forces bombing guerrillas:

  • Syria: The government air force attacks the rebels, mostly Sunni, with notorious use of barrel-bombs. The U.S. air force attacks ISIS, minus the barrel-bombs.
  • Iraq: Government forces rely partially on air power to attack ISIS forces.
  • Libya: Egyptian jets attack ISIS and other Sunni Islamist forces.
  • Yemen: Saudi jets attack Houthi positions.
  • Somalia: Kenyan planes just started to attack the Shabaab forces.

One can imagine similar campaigns starting in Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Will these limited campaigns succeed? I doubt it. Although control of the air offers great advantages, it does not translate into control of land; for that, ground forces are essential. But infantry and cavalry soldiers tend to take more injuries and deaths than do pilots, so their use is politically riskier.

Governments unwilling to insert ground forces, cannot expect to prevail. They can bomb the landscape back to the proverbial stone age without effecting their will. (Recall the Americans' Vietnam and the Russians' Afghanistan.)

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Why Yemen Matters

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 28, 2015  •  The Washington Times

The Middle East witnessed something radically new two days ago, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responded to a plea by Yemen's president and led a 10-country coalition to intervene in the air and on the ground in the country. "Operation Decisive Storm" prompts many reflections:

Saudi and Egypt in alliance: Half a century ago, Riyadh and Cairo were active in a Yemen war, but then they supported opposing sides, respectively the status-quo forces and the revolutionaries. Their now being allies points to continuity in Saudia along with profound changes in Egypt.

Arabic-speakers getting their act together: Through Israel's early decades, Arabs dreamt of uniting militarily against it but the realities of infighting and rivalries smashed every such hope. Even on the three occasions (1948-49, 1967, 1973) when they did join forces, they did so at cross purposes and ineffectively. How striking, then that finally they should coalesce not against Israel but against Iran. This implicitly points to their understanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran poses a real threat, whereas anti-Zionism amounts to mere indulgence. It also points to panic and the need to take action resulting from a stark American retreat.

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Islam Bulldozes the Past

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 20, 2015  •  The Washington Times

The recent bulldozing by the Islamic State (ISIS) of the ancient cities of Nimrud, Hatra, and Korsabad, three of the world's greatest archaeological and cultural sites, is just this group latest round of assaults across the large area under its control. Since January 2014, the flamboyantly barbaric ISIS has blown up Shi'i mosques, bulldozed churches, pulverized shrines, and plundered museums.

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Americans Battle the Arab-Israeli Conflict

by Daniel Pipes  •  Spring 2015  •  Middle East Quarterly

When, in the midst of the 2014 Hamas-Israel war, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration briefly banned American carriers from flying to Israel, Sen. Ted Cruz (Republican of Texas) accused Barack Obama of using a federal regulatory agency "to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands." In so doing, Cruz made an accusation no Israeli leader would dare express.

This is hardly unique. Over the years, other American political figures both Republican (Dan Burton, Jesse Helms, Condoleezza Rice, Arlen Specter) and Democrat (Charles Schumer), have adopted tougher, and sometimes more Zionist stances than the Israeli government. This pattern in turn points to a larger phenomenon: The Arab-Israeli conflict tends to generate more intense partisanship among Americans than among Middle Easterners. The latter may die from the conflict but the former experience it with greater passion.

I shall document and explain this counterintuitive pattern, then draw a conclusion from it.

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