Michael Rubin
Michael Rubin
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

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Is Talking the Shortest Path to War?

February 19, 2014  •  The American

On January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama outlined his vision for his second term and legacy, saying, "We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear." His desire to engage was both genuine and in alignment with long-held conventional wisdom among senior statesmen. A half century worth of experience, however, does not support the thesis that diplomacy with rogue regimes or terrorist groups brings peace. Rather, diplomacy misapplied can be the shortest path to war.

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The high price of negotiating with bad guys

February 14, 2014  •  The Washington Post

It was during a 2007 Democratic primary debate that Sen. Barack Obama first declared "ridiculous" the idea that "not talking to countries is punishment to them." Eighteen months later, with the world watching his historic inauguration, he reiterated his openness to dialogue with America's enemies: "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

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The U.S. Gets the Kurds Wrong - Again

February 13, 2014  •  The Wall Street Journal

As the Syrian civil war approaches its fourth year, prospects for peace seem dim. The negotiations this week in Geneva are showing as little progress as those late last month, for two clear reasons: First, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's hope that a resurgent Assad regime would offer concessions is a fantasy. Second, there is little correlation between the moderate opposition groups who have Mr. Kerry's diplomatic blessing and the extremists who hold increasing sway inside Syria.

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It's Time to Come Clean on the Disappeared

February 8, 2014  •  The Kurdistan Tribune

Kurdish history has had no shortage of tragedies, many of which were the result of foreign powers and beyond the control of the Kurdish people. Some tragedies have been self-inflicted, however, most prominent of which was the 1994-1997 civil war. After three years working to build the Kurdistan Regional Government and fill the vacuum left by Saddam Hussein's abrupt withdrawal of state support, disputes regarding power- and revenue-sharing between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led to civil war. Many died on the battlefield and both PUK and KDP forces expelled their opponents' sympathizers from territory they controlled. It was a tragedy which ended in 1997 for most Kurdish families who swallowed their losses and began to restart their lives. For about 3,000 families, however, the tragedy never ended. Their fathers, brothers, and sons disappeared, but they never learned the truth about what happened to their loved ones in PUK or KDP detention. Over subsequent years, the PUK and KDP reconciled but the fate of the missing became a subject too sensitive to discuss largely because of the complicity of senior leaders in both parties.

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Rings of Fire
Why the Olympics actually don't bring the world together

February 6, 2014  •  Foreign Policy

As Russia stumbles from one embarrassing snafu to the next in the lead-up to the Sochi games, at least one thing is certain: The 22nd Winter Olympics will be both the most controversial since 1980, when much of the free world boycotted the Moscow Games, and potentially the least peaceful since 1972, when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli team. Amid the controversy over the Russian government's crackdown on gays and against the backdrop of threats by al Qaeda-affiliated groups, the Olympic Charter's promise to "place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity," seems increasingly tenuous.

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Books by Michael Rubin

Cover of Dancing with the Devil Cover of Eternal Iran Cover of Into the Shadows

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