Michael Oren, Middle East historian and commentator extraordinare, is in the United States right now on a book tour for the paperback version of last year’s Power, Faith, and Fantasy, his best-selling history of American involvement in the Middle East from the colonial era to the present.
Michael is an engaging and entertaining speaker, and I highly recommend catching up with him while he’s in the states. The cities and dates are available here.
In voting today, Mike Huckabee won big with nearly 60% of the vote in the Kansas caucus
. Huckabee barnstormed yesterday; John McCain did not campaign there. In early returns
, McCain also is trailing Huckabee in Louisiana and, remarkably, in Washington
as well, where it appears that very few votes are being cast. (There was an issue in which thosuands of ballots were invalidated
due to voters’ failure to sign the ballot “oath” identifying themselves as either Democrat or Republican.)
In the CPAC
the straw poll, 24% of which occurred before Mitt Romney dropped out, McCain came in a point behind Romney (34-35%) while Mike Huckabee took 12%.(Once Romney dropped out McCain led in the straw poll voting 37%-32%.) McCain is likely pleased that the result wasn’t far worse from a group in which 57% believe we should withdraw from the U.N. and 80% back a policy which says we should follow existing laws even if it means deporting illegal aliens. Looking ahead to Tuesday, McCain has 30+
point leads in Maryland and Virginia. It seems that, despite a poor Saturday showing, he is on track to reach his magic delegate number of 1191.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Barack Obama won big in Nebraska, Washington and Louisiana. In both Red and Blue states he is racking up impressive wins. Once again, the saving grace for Hillary Clinton is the proportional voting system. Nevertheless, the ground may be shifting and Obama may lead in the delegate count after Tuesday. (He leads in Virginia and Maryland by 20 points.) It could be that the Democratic race has reached its tipping point.
UPDATE: Huckabee edged out McCain 43% to 42% in Louisiana. (Since neither candidate got 50% of the vote, no one receives the delegates that were at stake.) In Washington with 83% of the vote counted, McCain holds a narrow lead. McCain will no doubt hope to get back on track with Tuesday’s primaries.
Senator Barack Obama went on the record about the never-ending political meltdown in Lebanon, and for a moment there I thought he might have it just right.
“The ongoing political crisis is resulting in the destabilization of Lebanon,” he said, “which is an important country in the Middle East. The US cannot watch while Lebanon’s fresh democracy is about to collapse.” So far so good. “We must keep supporting the democratically-elected government of PM Fouad Siniora, strengthening the Lebanese army and insisting on the disarmament of Hezbollah before it leads Lebanon into another unnecessary war.”
This is all excellent, so let’s get something out of the way. Barack Obama is not a leftist. He is a liberal. The difference between an American liberal and an American leftist on Lebanon is enormous. I can’t tell you how many Western leftists I’ve met who ran off to Beirut where they endlessly excuse or even outright support Hezbollah. (They are “victims” of Zionism, they aren’t pro-American like those icky “right-wing” bourgeois Maronite Christians, etc.) Some of these Hezbollah supporters, tragically, are journalists. They put me in the right-wing “imperialist” and “orientalist” camp for no more than saying what Barack Obama just said.
Obama’s problem isn’t that he’s on the wrong side. His problem is he’s the latest in a seemingly limitless supply of naïve Westerners who think they can reason with Syria’s tyrant Bashar Assad.
On January 24, a federal grand jury in Alexandria issued a subpoena to James Risen of the New York Times, seeking information about who in the U.S. government provided him with classified information that he published in his book, State of War. That book appeared in January 2006, more than two years ago. The CIA may have a hard time keeping secrets, but the Justice Department, we are learning now that this long-running leak inquest has come to light, seems to be very good at it.
There are at least two possibilities why Risen was issued a subpoena. One is that his book badly embarrassed the CIA by exposing incompetence well beyond its familiar inability to keep secrets. In referring the breach to the Justice Department for investigation, the CIA is paying him back. The subpoena, in other words, is part and parcel of a cover-up of agency bungling.
Another explanation is that, thanks to Risen’s book, valuable intelligence sources and methods were compromised, damage was done to national security, and the Justice Department has been tasked with tracking down the malefactors in the intelligence community who broke their oaths of secrecy, violated the law, and dropped classified information of value to American adversaries into the public domain. Because Risen is the only one who knows their identity, he is being hauled before a grand jury.
Which explanation is more plausible? I offer some answers in the latest edition of the Weekly Standard.