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City of Brass

City of Brass

City of Brass Archives

Obama should not fire McChrystal – here’s why

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Lt. General Stanley McChrystal is being summoned to Washington DC today because of a pending article in Rolling Stone magazine where he and his aides trashed the civilian leadership of the war, including Obama, Biden, and others. McChrystal has apologized, […]

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Shariahland

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The problem with Afghanistan is that it isn’t like any war we’ve fought before, not even counter-insurgencies. It’s fundamentally an attempt to deny a haven for Islamic violent extremists (IVEs) to create a model society – “Sharialand”, for want of […]

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troops in Afghanistan: too many or not enough?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The McChrystal Report saga continues its inexorable trend towards the pre-ordained conclusion. At the beginning of September, the report had not yet been made public, but there seemed to be a concensus that Gen. McChrystal really understood the need to […]

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towards a “realist” foreign policy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There’s a new foreign policy group in town called the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, and they have written a letter to President Obama urging him to “focus US strategy more clearly on Al Qaeda” instead of explicit nation-building. […]

9-11 as an outlier

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Earlier, I posted my thoughts about whether terrorism was still a threat, noting that in one sense the answer was obviously yes, but asking whether 9-11 was the outlier it seemed to be. My post was intended to provoke a […]

Losing Afghanistan: the McChrystal report

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

One of the major problems with the Bush Administration and its conservative Republican stalwarts regarding the Iraq War was the “stay the course” dogma which seemed immune to any attempt at an honest evaluation of the war’s goals or purpose. […]

linking Afghanistan and Pakistan?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am engaged in some rethinking of our Afghanistan policy, and trying to look at Obama’s proposed strategy with a fresh outlook. This is more challenging because I am generally a fan of Obama’s policies rather than a critic. As […]

The Myth of Secular Inevitability: Iran, Islam, America, Israel and Palestine

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Haroon Moghul. Not surprisingly, in the days since Iran’s election fiasco, Western media have attempted to fit the events inside the Islamic Republic into a convenient framework. I call this the myth of secular […]

Iran 3.0: slower, please

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Two questions worth asking: What if the Green Revolution fails? And what if it succeeds? If it fails, I argued that we still have to engage Iran, just like we continued to engage China after Tiananmen Square. Doing otherwise will […]

What if the Green Revolution fails?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

A remarkable thing happened yesterday at President Obama’s afternoon press conference – he took a question from an Iranian, relayed via Nico Pitney at the Huffington Post. Pitney solicited questions via the Iranian Farsi-language social networking site Balatarin and invited […]

The Next Iran

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The fact that Iran could “promote” its own democracy should be enough of a refutation in and of itself to the neoconservative agenda. — LOG true indeed, even if the Green Revolution falters. In the end, the seeds of the […]

Why do we care so much about Iran?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Something that struck me about the Green Revolution in Iran is how invested the world is in it. It touches on all the right narratives: telegenic, courageous youth facing off against dour mullahs on the streets, straight out of the […]

Obama’s Cairo speech transcript and word cloud

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

(UPDATE: I argue that American Islam is the key to the new beginning that Obama is seeking. Also, see ongoing discussion of the Cairo speech at Talk Islam, including substantive critiques.) “A New Beginning” – 4th June 2009, Cairo Egypt […]

Pakistan’s constitutional Islamism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ali Eteraz has a lengthy, lucid article on the root of Pakistan’s problem – namely, that it’s 1973 constitution has made it an Islamist state rather than a democratic one. Eteraz provides a lengthy historical background and context for how […]

Iranian nuclear program: assessment and policy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Eric Martin at American Footprints points to this great, detailed assessment of the Iranian nuclear program (PDF) by the American Foreign Policy Project. Here’s a key excerpt: Although we often hear it said or implied that Iran is clearly pursuing […]

“The United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I posted the full transcript of Obama’s remarks to Turkey’s Parliament earlier but wanted to highlight a few passages that I think were particularly significant. For one thing, Obama strongly affirmed US support for Turkey’s EU membership: The United States […]

smart power: Obama’s video to Iran provokes fear

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke extensively of “smart power” in her description of how America’s foreign policy would seek to engage the world. Obama’s video message to Iran, on the occassion of Nowruz, is destined to become a case […]

TRANSCRIPT: Obama’s Nowruz message to Iran (with word cloud)

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is the transcript and word cloud of Obama’s video to the Iranian people for Nowruz, which goes far beyond the general Nowruz statements issued by previous Presidents Bush and Clinton.The word cloud is notable in that the words “New” […]

VIDEO: Obama’s Nowruz message to the Iranian People

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There is something simply amazing about this. The video even has subtitles in Farsi. It is often said that the Internet allowed Obama to bypass the Washington DC media establishment and reach out directly to the American people; now he […]

liberal interventionism vs imperialism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

At Talk Islam, I have (another) healthy debate with Abu Noor about the Iraq War, pragmatic liberal intervention, and imperialism. We end up debating the merits of interventionism a lot over at TI, don’t we?

replacing the War on Terror (WOT) with a WOMBAT

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In the context of my earlier thoughts about how the muslim community can help combat extremism, one more thing occurs to me; perhaps what is also needed is a rebranding of the War on Terror. You cannot wage war against […]

how can muslims combat extremism?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve often dismissed the idea that muslims in the West have any obligation to apologize for or routinely condemn on demand the actions of the extremist minorities who commit acts of terror in the name of the faith they claim […]

democracy promotion and liberal interventionism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Further to the debate at Talk Islam earlier, I think that it is critical that the broader foreign policy principle of democracy promotion not be discredited by the imperialism-lite of the neoconservative movement.Liberal interventionism is not a purely military effort, […]

Obama will not leave Iraq. (good.)

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve long argued that no Democratic president will fully withdraw from Iraq. There’s been plenty of evidence of Obama’s intentions in that regard; the latest is this exchange from Joe Klein’s recent interview with Obama: [Q] Lets go back to […]

Previous Posts

Obvious: The Iraq War created ISIS
This is something that is so obvious, it is in danger of never being said, in which case those who led us into war will try to ...

posted 1:48:22am Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Eid at the State Department
I am honored to be invited to celebrate Eid al Fitr at the State Department again this year. And I am relieved that this time, it's actually taking place after Ramadan, which means I can actually attend for the first time! :) I am looking ...

posted 11:01:00am Jul. 21, 2015 | read full post »

The Empire State goes green for Eid
As is tradition, the Empire State Building - the most beautiful skyscraper in the world - was illuminated in green to mark Eid al Fitr. Of course, in 2015, this is announced via the official twitter account ...

posted 1:21:00am Jul. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Ramadan Pearls roundup
Here is a link to all the posts in the Ramadan Pearls series I did during Ramadan: Criterion Non-existence Mystery Angels Objective Expectant Reed Veils Lend Good I hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom as much as ...

posted 3:01:31pm Jul. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Eid Mubarak!
By the Fatimid calendar, today is Eid al Fitr, 1436! I've explained my position on the calendar vs. moonsighting debate in detail - and this year there is a lot more divergence on the date than usual. Crescentwatch nicely ...

posted 7:53:00am Jul. 17, 2015 | read full post »

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