Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More News from the Middle East

The Forever War, a much anticipated book by New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins, is scheduled to hit shelves this September.

Filkins is one of the best American journalists around. Since 2001 he has reported the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, prior to working for the Times he was the LA Times’ New Delhi Bureau Chief. The Forever War reportedly is a treatment of the America’s military involvement in the Middle East after 9/11.


Ever wonder how life in New York compares to say, Baghdad? Well, here’s a cool post from the New York Times’ Baghdad Bureau blog by an Iraqi reporter visiting New York. He compares the sights, sounds, and happening in New York to those in the Iraqi capital.

The New York Times also reports today that top level CIA officers traveled to Pakistan to discuss the Pakistani intelligence’s support of Islamic militants in the country’s tribal areas along its border with Afghanistan.

I personally have had a lot of concern about this for a while. Prior to 9/11 Pakistan’s intelligence service, known as the ISI, had a close relationship with the Taliban (and perhaps Al Qaeda). Although after September 2001 they officially turned against their former colleagues, many wonder whether the ISI is still supporting them clandestinely.

This raises a lot of hard questions. We give economic and military aid to Pakistan. Where does that money go? Is a portion indirectly funneled to the Islamic militants we are fighting in Afghanistan and other enemies?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Oil/ Saudi Arabia

Washington Post: Don’t expect oil prices to go down significantly EVER AGAIN.
Here’s why. – This is the first in what will be a series of articles… interesting and informative.
Also, I just finished Steve Coll’s The Bin Ladens, an excellent book that traces not only the history of the Bin Laden family from village poverty in Yemen to the multi-millionaires they are today, but also the history of 20th century Saudi Arabia.

"My grandfather rode a camel. My father rode in a car. I fly in a jet. My son will ride a camel." Saudi Arabian Proverb

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Zohan

Well, I finally saw Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and I have to say that it was Adam Sandler’s best movie in years.

The Zohan can be summed up as: Moshe Dayan moves to New York to become a hairdresser. It was genuinely funny (although perhaps not everyone will understand all the hummus jokes), while at the same time maintaining a philosophical point.

The Zohan, played by Adam Sandler, is an Israeli commando who kicks ass and takes names; he can even catch a bullet between his thumb and forefinger. And yet, he’s fed up with the Arab-Israeli conflict. “When does it all end?” he’s constantly asking himself.

During a meeting to plan the apprehension of a terrorist the Zohan asks, “Why take him if we are going to release him in the end anyway?”

So he fakes his own death and moves to New York to pursue his dream: live in tranquility and make a living as a hairdresser.

High jinks follow but the film raises a key issue as Israel is preparing for a prisoner swap with Hezbollah. The Israelis will supposedly be swapping Samir Kuntar, a convicted terrorist who, among other things, killed a Jewish child by crushing her skull. –I’m sure he will be given a hero’s reception in Lebanon and the Arab world- perhaps that says something.

Best line: some WASPish business man refers to Arabs and Israelis as being “kaki” colored.