Fouad Ajami Appreciated the Arab World for Its Achievements, and Held It Responsible for Its Failures

Reviewing the posthumous memoir of the great Lebanese-born scholar Fouad Ajami, Hussain Abdul-Hussain reflects on the similarities between his own life and Ajami’s—both came from Shiite families, both attended the same high school in Beirut (many years apart), and both found their ways to America—and on Ajami’s intellectual legacy:

During our time in our ancestral homeland, we learned the same lesson: Arab failure was from within. It was not the fault of imperialism, colonialism, or even Zionism. For Ajami, the price of dissent was often vilification, in particular the accusation that he was a self-hating Arab.

[Once], I subscribed to Arab nationalism. The late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said was my hero. He taught a generation of scholars that “orientalism”—the patronizing Western belief in Arab inferiority—was the midwife of imperialism and the ultimate author of Middle Eastern misfortunes. Then something unusual happened. The United States prepared to invade Iraq, promising democratic self-government to its people. Meanwhile, Said and an overwhelming majority of Arab intellectuals portrayed Saddam Hussein as a victim of Yankee aggression.

In general, Said and his fellow travelers had few qualms about “armed resistance” to imperial oppressors. They lionized Palestinian resistance above all, yet had sympathy for the dictator who had forced my family out of Iraq. Thus, I saw the ugly face of Arab nationalism. [For his part], Said accused Ajami of having “unmistakably racist prescriptions.”

But neither Ajami nor I were ever self-hating Arabs. Ajami loved Arab culture—the language, poetry, music, and cuisine. . . . In contrast, Edward Said “chose” his Arab identity at age thirty and then made a career out of teaching others to blame foreigners.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Arab World, Edward Said, Fouad Ajami, Iraq war


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy