The Corner

Believe Khamenei and Assad? Not Me

Has anyone else noted the similarity in the weekend’s top two Middle East news stories – the telephone call between the Iranian and American presidents and the passage of U.N. Security Council Resoluton 2118 that calls for the “expeditious destruction” of Syrian chemical weapons? In both cases:

‐A long-ruling tyrant (Ali Khamenei, Bashar Assad) is reaching out to the West.

Those tyrants are furiously signaling an apparent reform (a smiling Hassan Rouhani, Assad acknowledging his chemical weapons and agreeing to turn them over).

“Who us, WMD?” they ask. “No interest at all in them.”

Count me skeptical. In part, I’ve learned over the decades that pessimism is good for one’s career as a Middle East analyst. In part, both the Iranian and Syrian governments have shown such dedication to their WMD buildups that it’s nearly inconceivable either will voluntarily undo them.

I just hope that the U.S. and other governments don’t fall prey to manipulations and delays. Given the occupant in the White House, however, that seems like a very probable outcome, especially in the Iranian case. 

Most Popular

White House

The Impeachment Clock

Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry is incoherent. Given the impossibility of a senatorial conviction, the only strategy is to taint the president with the brand of impeachment and weaken him in the 2020 election. Yet Schiff seems to have no sense that the worm has already turned. Far from tormenting Trump and ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Clock

Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry is incoherent. Given the impossibility of a senatorial conviction, the only strategy is to taint the president with the brand of impeachment and weaken him in the 2020 election. Yet Schiff seems to have no sense that the worm has already turned. Far from tormenting Trump and ... Read More
Film & TV

Frozen II Is a Fjord Fiasco

Since Frozen was a nearly perfect Disney feature, Frozen II brings with it the expectation of magic. Magic is really hard to pull off, though, and this time the sparkle is gone. In Frozen II, the story is strange, the jokes are terrible, the romance is nonexistent, and the songs are clunkers. Fairy tales that end ... Read More
Film & TV

Frozen II Is a Fjord Fiasco

Since Frozen was a nearly perfect Disney feature, Frozen II brings with it the expectation of magic. Magic is really hard to pull off, though, and this time the sparkle is gone. In Frozen II, the story is strange, the jokes are terrible, the romance is nonexistent, and the songs are clunkers. Fairy tales that end ... Read More
Elections

Warren’s Wealth Tax Is Unethical

Senator Warren would impose a 2 percent annual tax on wealth above $50 million, and a 6 percent annual tax on wealth above $1 billion. These numbers may seem small, but remember that they would be applied every year. With wealth taxes, small numbers have large effects. Applied to an asset yielding a steady ... Read More
Elections

Warren’s Wealth Tax Is Unethical

Senator Warren would impose a 2 percent annual tax on wealth above $50 million, and a 6 percent annual tax on wealth above $1 billion. These numbers may seem small, but remember that they would be applied every year. With wealth taxes, small numbers have large effects. Applied to an asset yielding a steady ... Read More