Weekly Roundup 3/21/2011

Operation Odyssey Dawn: A Mix of Views

"An allied intervention in Libya"
David Ignatius, PostPartisan: A blog of the Washington Post, March 19, 2011

"What is the Libya endgame?"
Ben Smith and Byron Tau, Politico.com, March 20, 2011

"Libya: it's not our fight"
Edward Luttwak, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2011

Synopsis: President Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya only after Britain and France had led the way and the Arab League had come aboard was “brilliant strategy,” not “a feckless blunder,” according to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a veteran of Mideast reporting. But Politico writers Ben Smith and Byron Tau sense a potential contradiction in Obama’s description of a “limited” commitment but his repeated statement that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi “must go.” And Edward Luttwak, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that the U.S. role will inevitably be depicted as "predatory and anti-Muslim, generating more terrorism in due course."

Takeaway: Many observers doubt a quick resolution. “This is going to be more like Kosovo than like Baghdad in 2003,” says Heather Hurlburt, leader of the National Security Network, a group generally allied with the White House.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor

Forthcoming: watch for CQ Global Researcher’s report on events in the Mideast in early May.


"Playboy Interview: Helen Thomas"
Playboy, April 2011

Synopsis: Among recent media commentators ousted from jobs after voicing unpopular opinions is Helen Thomas, longtime dean of the White House press corps. Thomas, now 90, was forced to resign her columnist’s job at Hearst newspapers last summer after a YouTube video showed her saying that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and adding that the Jews “can go home” to “Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.” Thomas, of Syrian descent, continues to argue that the statement was not anti-Semitic. “What I meant was [that Jews] should stay where they are because they’re not being persecuted—not since World War II, not since 1945…. I’m not anti-Jewish; I’m anti-Zionist,” she said. “I am anti Israel taking what doesn’t belong to it. If you have a home and you’re kicked out of that home, you don’t come and kick someone else out…. . American people do not know that the Israeli lobbyists have intimidated them into believing every Jew is a persecuted victim forever—while they are victimizing Palestinians.”

Takeaway: Asked if the intemperate remarks occurred because, at 90, she’s gone “crazy,” Thomas retorted: “You have to be crazy to criticize Israel? You have to be crazy to criticize tyranny? I learned before Hitler that you have to stand up for something. You have to stand up. We always have to take a stand against human tyranny wherever it occurs.”

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


"An Accelerated Grimace: On Cyber-Utopianism"
Chris Lehman, The Nation, March 21, 2011

Lehman, newly named managing editor of news blogs at Yahoo! (and a former editor at Congressional Quarterly), dissects a new book by technology writer Clay Shirky, finding it an example of shallow thinking that sees the Web as the solution to mankind’s problems. Another new book, by Evgeny Morozov, a former Web-enabled dissident in Belarussia, serves as the antidote to Shirky’s rosy-eyed view, Lehman concludes. Morozov saw firsthand, Lehman notes, that dictatorships are perfectly capable of using information technology to repress and misinform.

--Peter Katel, Staff Writer


"A Marked Man in America"
Andrea Elliott, The New York Times Magazine, March 20, 2011

Synopsis: Raised in both Texas and Saudi Arabia, Yasir Qadhi is a Ph.D. candidate in Islamic studies and one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam. But as he tries to balance the strict tenets of orthodox Islam with the customs of today’s America, he has become a “figure of interest” to law enforcement agents, despite his apparent message of nonviolence.

Takeaway: Discussing jihad with his followers – but not advocating it - without bringing anti-terrorism forces down on his head is among the challenge Qadhi ultimately faces.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor