Middle East

Guapa By Saleem Haddad

Aug 23, 2016

  Set over the course of twenty-four hours, Guapa follows Rasa, a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country, as he tries to carve out a life for himself in the midst of political and social upheaval. Rasa spends his days translating for Western journalists and pining for the nights when he can sneak his lover, Taymour, into his room.

One night Rasa's grandmother — the woman who raised him — catches them in bed together. The following day Rasa is consumed by the search for his best friend Maj, a fiery activist and drag queen star of the underground bar, Guapa, who has been arrested by the police. Ashamed to go home and face his grandmother, and reeling from the potential loss of the three most important people in his life, Rasa roams the city’s slums and prisons, the lavish weddings of the country’s elite, and the bars where outcasts and intellectuals drink to a long-lost revolution. 

Daniel Silva is widely acclaimed as one of America's greatest spy novelists. He's know for his creation of the hero art-restorer assassin and spy, Gabriel Allon. His latest, The Black Widow, is the 16th novel in which Allon has appeared. 

  From the end of World War II until 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in the Greater Middle East. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere else. What caused this shift? Andrew J. Bacevich, one of the country’s most respected voices on foreign affairs, offers an incisive critical history of this ongoing military enterprise—now more than thirty years old and with no end in sight.

His book is America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History .

Over the past three years, American writer Ben Ehrenreich has been traveling to and living in the West Bank, staying with Palestinian families in its largest cities and its smallest villages. Eventually Ehrenreich moved to Ramallah, and started writing what would become his new book: The Way To The Spring: Life and Death in Palestine.

Ehrenreich was moved by the injustices that he witnessed, and by the general silence about them in most U.S. media. As well informed as he was on the Arab-Israeli conflict, he nonetheless was consistently shocked by what he saw, and by how little the vast majority of people in the U.S. (and even in Israel, just few miles away) understood about the lived realities of the occupation. He felt strongly that he wanted to write to break through those silences.

In cities and small villages alike, men and women, young and old, shared their lives with Ehrenreich and made their own case for resistance and resilience in the face of life under occupation. The Way to the Spring makes clear that conditions on the ground are changing--and getting worse.

In the new book The Fires of Spring: A Post-Arab Spring Journey Through the Turbulent New Middle East author Shelly Culbertson, Middle East analyst at the Rand Corporation, looks to shed light on the Middle East after the Arab Spring. 

  It gets less press than debate over Middle East security needs, but seapower remains a focus of U.S. defense.

In today’s Congressional Corner, WAMC’s Alan Chartock speaks with Connecticut representative Joe Courtney about the need for advanced submarines.

Herbert London: The Russians Are Going

Mar 23, 2016

There was a Hollywood film of yesteryear with the title “The Russians Are Coming.” If one were making that film today it might be called “The Russians Are Going.” In a move that has surprised many in our State Department, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of the Russian military contingent from Syria. He noted that the principal tasks “for the armed forces were accomplished,” i.e. stabilizing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

  From Syria to Iraq to Afghanistan, there are trouble spots in much of the Islamic world.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Representative Elizabeth Esty tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock about what she learned on a recent trip to Afghanistan. 

  It was the deadliest terror campaign ever mounted against a nation in modern times: the al-Aqsa, or Second, Intifada. This is the untold story of how Israel fought back with an elite force of undercover operatives, drawn from the nation’s diverse backgrounds and ethnicities—and united in their ability to walk among the enemy as no one else dared.

  For more than a decade, Katherine Zoepf has lived in or traveled throughout the Arab world, reporting on the lives of women, whose role in the region has never been more in flux. Only a generation ago, female adolescence as we know it in the West did not exist in the Middle East. There were only children and married women.

  What does the phrase “boots on the ground” really entail?

In today’s Congressional Corner, Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that he is skeptical about a military solution to the ills of the Middle East.

  There are problem areas all over the Middle East.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York Republican Elise Stefanik tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock what she learned on a recent trip through the region.

Stephen Gottlieb: Brandeis And Zionism

Oct 27, 2015

The struggle between Israel and Palestine and the intransigence of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, leads me to think about a founder of American Zionism. In a book to come out early next year, I wrote:

Herbert London: Who Lost The Middle East?

Oct 14, 2015

Much has already been written about the feckless foreign policy of the Obama administration or, in some instance, the president’s success in master minding a global American retreat from foreign affairs. As events are unfolding, it is clear the U.S. has voluntarily ceded its interest in the Middle East. In fact, I can anticipate the title of a book a decade from now that reads “Who Lost The Middle East?” similar to the host of books in the 1950’s entitled “Who Lost China?”

Stephen Gottlieb: Realism About Middle Eastern Priorities

Sep 8, 2015

Republicans in Congress have been holding up funds for Fulbright scholarships and the Peace Corps, anything that would actually allow Americans to learn about what is going on in the rest of the world. It's no wonder that foreign policy discussions have the smell of fantasy.

  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the longest, ongoing hot-and-cold war of the 20th and 21st centuries. It has produced more refugees than any current conflict, generating fully one quarter of all refugees worldwide. Everyone knows that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is important itself, and is also fueling tensions throughout the Middle East. Yet most people shy away from this conflict, claiming it is "just too complicated" to understand.

Understanding Israel/Palestine: Race, Nation, and Human Rights in the Conflict is written for people who want a point of entry into the conversation. Eve Spangler is a sociologist at Boston College.

  Each day brings more terrible headlines from the Middle East.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that a new war is out of the question.

  There are no easy answers in the Middle East.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York Representative Chris Gibson tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that the Islamic State is not going away in Iraq. 

  

  In The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism--From al Qa'ida to ISIS, recently retired Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Michael Morrell uses his talents to offer an unblinking and insightful assessment of CIA's counterterrorism successes and failures of the past twenty years.

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  Bard College Professor of Political Studies James Ketterer joins Alan in the studio to discuss politics and the Middle East. 

  When Emma Sky volunteered to help rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, she had little idea what she was getting in to. Her assignment was only supposed to last three months. She went on to serve there longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, giving her an unrivaled perspective of the entire conflict.

  What should America’s role be in the Middle East?

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York Representative Chris Gibson tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock there are no easy answers to that eternal question.

  The First American-Afghan War, a CIA war, was approved by President George W. Bush and directed by the author, Robert Grenier, the CIA station chief in Islamabad. Forging separate alliances with warlords, Taliban dissidents, and Pakistani intelligence, Grenier launched the “southern campaign,” orchestrating the final defeat of the Taliban and Hamid Karzai’s rise to power in eighty-eight chaotic days.

Grenier writes about the war - what happened and what is meant - in his book, 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary.

  In its earliest days, the American-led war in Afghanistan appeared to be a triumph — a "good war" in comparison to the debacle in Iraq. It has since turned into one of the longest and most costly wars in U.S. history. The story of how this good war went so bad may well turn out to be a defining tragedy of the 21st century — yet as acclaimed war correspondent Jack Fairweather explains, it should also give us reason to hope.

In The Good War, Fairweather provides the first full narrative history of the war in Afghanistan, from the 2001 invasion to the 2014 withdrawal.

  The situation in the Middle East is volatile.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Vermont representative Peter Welch tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock the U.S. is still paying for a bad decision in 2003.

  Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David is a day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter persuaded Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to sign the first peace treaty in the modern Middle East, one which endures to this day.

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Bard College and U.S. Military Academy at West Point are teaming up for a panel Monday on challenges in the Middle East.

Herbert London: Middle East Scorpions

Aug 27, 2014

The old story of the scorpion and the frog is pertinent yet again. A scorpion says to a frog, “will you escort me across the Red Sea? The frog replies, “Are you crazy, you will bite me and I will drown. The scorpion notes if I bite you and you drown I will drown as well since I cannot swim. The frog, persuaded by the logic, reconsiders and asks the scorpion to hop on his back as he starts to swim across the sea. Half way to his destination, the scorpion bites him. As the frog descends, he says to the scorpion, “why would you do this? Now we will both die.” The scorpion replies: “Because this is the Middle East.”

8/27/14 Panel

Aug 27, 2014

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, newsman Ray Graf, and Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Reporter, Rosemary Armao.

Topics include:
US Allies
Climate Accord
No NYT Endorsement
If Britain Were a State...
Legroom Fight

Herbert London: The War With Palestinians

Aug 20, 2014

The “Palestinian cause” is once again on the front burner of U.N. deliberations because of the war between Israel and Hamas. Moreover, this cause has for decades formed the pan Arab solidarity rallying cry. Yet, remarkably, Arab states rather than rectify “the problem” exacerbate it with perpetual conflict that serves a political goal, but no practical purpose for the hapless constituents in the area.

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