Tag: Middle East

A Toilet in Every Home


In 2010, I found myself working in Noida, India – a modern pop-up city on the outskirts of Delhi.

Narendra Modi, a lifelong political operative, was angling to become the 14th prime minister of India. One of the more unusual planks of his platform was the aspiration to put a toilet in every home.   (At the time, about half the homes in India didn’t have indoor toilets, and those that did were predominantly in cities or their surrounding sprawl.)

With Christmas approaching, in this episode we reflect on Christian persecution in the Middle East, the historic cradle of Christianity and the birthplace of Jesus, and the very different challenges Christians face in the East versus the West.

Annika sits down with Father Benedict Kiely, a Catholic priest who has devoted his ministry to serving Christian communities in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

National Review artist Roman Genn came to America from the Soviet Union in 1991. In this episode, he compares the ideology he left behind with that which has gained a strong foothold in this country. His analysis, which comes at a pivotal moment, is worth hearing. And then there are the laughs, which are always plentiful when Roman and Dave have the chance to commiserate. Then, Ricochet Member Boss Mongo (a.k.a. Lt Col Brendan Welsh, US Army Special Forces Retired) drops by to discuss what sorts of national security threats await the new Biden Administration (hint: America’s adversaries are “giggling like little girls.”).

Otherwise, studio lighting issues, wardrobe changes, and unexpected guests dot the landscape of this rather unique episode. Enjoy!

More year-end awards today!  Jim and Greg embark on the second half of their six-episode saga known as the 2020 Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, they offer up their selections for the best political idea, worst political idea, and boldest political tactics for the year.

Join Jim and Greg as they reveal what they’re politically thankful for in 2020. From the fight against COVID to domestic politics to major events on the world stage, they each find three things they’re thankful for from this difficult, unpredictable year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all 3 Martini Lunch listeners and your families! There will be no podcast on Thursday. Please join us Friday for our special Black Friday edition, as Jim and Greg pick out gifts for various political figures.

Join Jim and Greg as they dig into new polling numbers showing millennial and Gen Z voters very unenthusiastic about Joe Biden. They also react to Nashville officials covering up information showing very few COVID transmissions in bars and conspiring to make sure the public did not know. And they enjoy spiking the football on John Kerry by looking back to his 2016 pronouncement that there would never be Israeli-Arab peace outside of a peace deal involving the Palestinians.

Well, 2020 is certainly off to an explosive start.  Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the demise of Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani and recount the evil carnage he perpetrated against U.S. forces and many others over the past two decades. They also realize that the targeting of Suleimani may well result in an Iranian response and wonder what the reality will soon be in the Middle East and beyond. And they analyze Marianne Williamson’s curious decision to lay off her entire national campaign staff but insist she’s still in the race.

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After reading today about the drone strike yesterday on Saudi Arabia that halved its oil output, the first thing I thought of was the damage it could do to the US economy. The second was the consequences of the first for the president, a pillar of whose reelection argument is the performance of the US […]

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Below is an excerpt from our recently published piece The 9/11 Attacks: Understanding Al-Qaeda and the Domestic Fall-Out from America’s Secret War: With American military personnel now entering service who were not even alive on 9/11, this seems an appropriate time to reexamine the events of September 11, 2001 – the opaque motives for the attacks, […]

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Eurovision 2019: The Hip Hop Beat of the Mideast Conflict


Two weeks ago, the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest, made a startling announcement: The contest rules which have been in place for six decades should apply … unless, of course, a singer from Israel wins the contest …. and then, well, we need to rethink the matter.

Because an Israeli singer, Netta Barzilai, did in fact win the contest in Lisbon in mid-May, the European broadcasters had a dilemma: Follow the contest’s long-standing rules, or develop and apply a new, special set of rules that only apply to Israel.

To understand the controversy, and how it provides a view into the wider public diplomacy challenges that Israel faces each day, some background is needed.

We’re Winning in the Middle East


In Iran / Syria last week:

  • President Trump withdrew from the Iran deal.
  • Iran responded by firing missiles into Israel.
  • Israel responded by destroying much of Iran’s military assets in Syria.
  • Russia responded by announcing that on second thought they would not be sending arms to Iranian forces in Syria. That is, they were reducing their support for Iran in Syria.
  • Saudi Arabia’s proxy Bahrain explicitly affirmed the rights of all states, including Israel, to defend themselves. A remarkable comment from a country that doesn’t recognize the state of Israel.

A few days earlier Bahrain and UAE were Tweeting their happiness to be in Jerusalem to participate in an international bike race. This is new.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleasantly stunned to hear Saudi Arabia’s crown prince publicly state that Israel has a right to live in peace on its own land and wonder if things are truly changing in the Middle East or whether this is a temporary thaw in order to confront Iran.  In the wake of the very public feud between Fox News host Laura Ingraham and gun control activist David Hogg, they also discuss how the rise of populism leads to political debates becoming a referendum on the people in the debate rather than the ideas involved in the debate.  And they wonder why President Trump is spending so much time blasting Amazon and the rate it pays to mail packages, suspecting it might have something to do with another business venture headed by Jeff Bezos.

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If you missed the old days where Glenn Beck used the old school chalkboard political analysis when he was on Fox, he’s resurrected them. He was spot on back in the early days of Obama’s administration, predicting the Middle East “Spring” in exactly the order that the “fire” spread to each country.  Such a charming, […]

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Eight years after Iran’s Green Movement and antigovernment protests, will the current unrest in the nation have no lasting impact or is it the beginning of the end for the repressive theocracy? Abbas Milani, a Hoover research fellow and the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, explains the nature of the uprising, Tehran’s response, and the Trump administration’s options.

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Did anyone catch this story about the Russian war games this past September, 2017? Was it, according to sources in The Sun, a dry run for a larger invasion of Western Europe?  https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5177666/russia-military-drills-invasion-europe-vladimir-putin/ In an earlier post, I told the story of Ryszard Kuklinski, a quiet Polish officer who found himself in the middle of […]

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Can the Saudis Lead the Middle East into the Future?


Slowly but surely, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to bring the Saudis into the 21st century. It is happening in fits and starts, and there are still many signs that the country has a long way to go, but I am cautiously optimistic.

Just last Tuesday, the Crown Prince talked about moderating Saudi Arabia’s practice of radical Sunni Islam at an economic forum in Riyadh:

We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.

In this AEI Events Podcast, Vice Admiral (Ret.) Mark Fox and Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Trask discuss how Iran pursues its foreign policy goals and conducts warfare in the Middle East. Both guests, along with AEI’s Frederick W. Kagan and J. Matthew McInnis, explain how they expect to see Tehran expand its methods in coming years.

The speakers agree that Iran masters asymmetric warfare, such as support for proxies, and thus will use increased resources to expand these operations. Lt. Gen. Trask, currently vice commander of the US Special Operations Command, highlights the importance of J. Matthew McInnis’ monograph “The Future of Iran’s Security Policy,” particularly its value to military planners and policymakers who need insight into Iranian strategic capabilities and thinking. Lt. Gen. Trask calls the monograph mandatory reading for all planners at the Special Operations Command.