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It’s been just over 40 years since the Trilateral Commission issued their landmark report, The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies. Although the commission (which still exists) has become, in practical terms, fodder for the paranoid fantasies of fringe groups like the John Birch Society, in the 1970s, it was not always so. (More…)

Although never in Baghdad for long at a time, I generally had occasion to spend four or five days there every other month. The life in any city is complex and interesting, but here it was especially so. We were among a totally foreign people, but the ever-felt intangible barrier of color was not present.  (More…)

In the week following David Bowie’s death, a period my friend Ann Powers referred to as “sitting shiva”, my social media feed was dominated by content related to his career. Personal reflections on his impact, pieces about his career and countless links to clips testified to his cultural significance. At times, this collective outpouring felt like a desperate attempt to assert that we all still had something in common. (More…)

The populists are wrong. Getting settled in Europe is a lot harder than it seems. Though refugees and asylum seekers often receive support from their adopted home countries, the process of settling down, and earning residency, is incredibly hard, with no guarantees of success. It all depends on how you handle immigration bureaucracy, not just at the moment of arrival, but for years to come. (More…)

“We were white until the Arabs came and raped our women,” is the sort of thing you’ll hear Iranian Americans say, when expressing their distaste for Islam. A reverse Orientalism in a sense, they will often refer to Arabs–Gulf Arabs, mainly– as ‘locust eaters’ (malakh khor) (More…)

There is a kind of literalism that permeates metal culture when it comes to the word ‘metal.’ Metal is hard, unyielding, unbreakable, weaponised, destructive etc etc. Metal is a metaphor that is applied to the music and to its culture; it represents an ideal as much as a description. (More…)

Saudi Arabia is facing a systemic overhaul. Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman recently indicated as much during an interview with The Economist, by answering “most certainly” to a question about whether or not Saudi Arabia is facing “a Thatcher revolution.”  (More…)

Because of the gravity of the situation in Iraq and of its consequences for Iraq, the United States, the region, and the world, the Iraq Study Group has carefully considered the full range of alternative approaches for moving forward. We recognize that there is no perfect solution and that all that have been suggested have flaws. (More…)

The British National Party has now been removed from the official list of political parties. This is because it failed to pay its annual £25 registration fee. Without registering, it’s not possible for the BNP to contest elections. Even six months notice wasn’t enough for the party to make the deadline. So this may well be the last gasp for the BNP. Whether or not it can regroup is hard to say. (More…)

“Mom, imagine Fabi is lost somewhere in the city. He is hiding near the dumpster, and a policeman named Jeremy finds him and takes him to the station. “So, where do you live? Mr.… Fabi, your name tag says! Let’s try and call your mom. Sit here and wait, and don’t make any prank calls.” (More…)

Saudi Arabia finally executed Shi’ite cleric and political dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday. Regional tensions have escalated dramatically after Nimr’s death led to violent protests at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, causing a diplomatic crisis. The question is why this happened now. (More…)

The light was fading fast when I spotted the truck out of the corner of my eye. I’d seen some good sets of bumper stickers over the years, but knew that few of them could compare with this one for sheer quantity. Turning my car around, though, I realized that I was in the sort of neighborhood in which strangers taking photographs are asking for trouble. (More…)