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John Tirman
John Tirman is executive director of the MIT Center for International Studies. Tirman is author, or coauthor and editor, of twelve books on international affairs, including, most recently, The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars and Becoming Enemies: U.S.-Iran Relations and the Iran-Iraq War. Follow John Tirman on Twitter @JohnTirman.

Entries by John Tirman

Climate Leadership: Paris and the Paradox of the U.S. Role

(125) Comments | Posted November 27, 2015 | 2:26 PM

One of the standard tropes of American politics is about global leadership. The automatic assumption on nearly all pressing issues is that we lead, and one of the charges typical of presidential campaigns is that the other candidate doesn't, can't or won't lead. But now, on the most momentous concern...

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'Anchor Babies' and Other Horror Stories About Immigrants: Be Not Afraid

(74) Comments | Posted August 27, 2015 | 5:29 PM

I was on a call-in radio show late one night this week to discuss immigration and my new book, Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash. The radio station, WBZ, is a CBS affiliate in Boston that reaches much of the northeast United States, so I expected some conservative blowback...

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Science and the Republicans' Annulment of the Enlightenment

(233) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 7:21 PM

Many years ago, my father and I were watching the "Tonight Show" in the Johnny Carson era. A guest that evening was one of my favorite actors, Peter Finch. During the interview, my father, a physician, said plainly, "that man is going to have a heart attack." He noted that...

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Accordo sul nucleare con l'Iran. A chi va il "merito" della pace?

(9) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 1:19 PM

John F. Kennedy, leccandosi ancora le ferite dopo il fallito tentativo d'invasione della Baia dei Porci (Cuba), disse in una conferenza stampa che "la vittoria ha centinaia di padri. Il fallimento è orfano". Questa piccata osservazione, tratta dallo storico romano Tacito, viene in mente proprio mentre molti di noi festeggiano...

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Iran Deal: Who Won the Peace?

(59) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 9:15 AM

John F. Kennedy, licking his wounds from the Bay of Pigs debacle in Cuba, told a press conference that "Victory has a hundred fathers. Failure is an orphan." This piquant observation, derived from the Roman historian Tacitus, comes to mind as many of us celebrate the most historic foreign-policy achievement...

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The Right's New Assault on Iran

(122) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 4:59 PM

Conservatives in this country are deeply frustrated by the progress of the nuclear talks with Iran, which are likely to produce a landmark agreement within a few weeks. So they have reverted to an old shibboleth of anti-Iran rhetoric: that the Islamic Republic of Iran is hell bent on regional...

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Draconian: America's Detention Nightmare

(8) Comments | Posted May 22, 2015 | 10:34 AM

For years, detention has been one of America's dirty little secrets. Detention is what happens to people who have entered the United States without authorization or overstayed a visa. Detention has been widely decried by human-rights advocates for its prison-like conditions and the too-frequent abuses that are...

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The Real Cost of Vietnam

(116) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 9:32 AM

The commemoration of the end of the Vietnam War this week in 1975 will be lost on many Americans who are too young to recall the tumultuous events of the Indochina wars. (We also bombed Laos and Cambodia mercilessly in the same period.) The iconic photographs of the U.S. helicopter...

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The Migrant Crisis, Here and There

(25) Comments | Posted April 21, 2015 | 7:36 PM

It is ever more clear we are in the midst of a colossal migration crisis. In Europe, the haunting specter of hundreds, even thousands, of Africans drowning in the Mediterranean has captured headlines for a few days. European leaders, who had tried to discourage crossings by withdrawing naval patrols, will...

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The Immigration Debate Is Not About Legality, It's About Culture

(422) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 9:32 AM

The Republican Party has tried in every way conceivable to throw a wrench in President Obama's executive order to provide legal status to about five million immigrants who entered or stayed in the country without authorization. Yet everything is failing for the Grand Old Party. And that's because the right-wing...

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Wages of War: Vietnam and Iraq

(58) Comments | Posted February 20, 2015 | 10:47 AM

One of the frequent acts of hubris by war makers is to ignore the consequences of war that will last a generation or more. Political leaders rarely point to any outcome of a war unfolding apart from the war's aims -- glorious victory, horrid enemy vanquished, few casualties, peace and...

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Human Rights First: The Great Robert White

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2015 | 6:36 PM

When I traveled to Guatemala in the late 1980s with Ambassador Robert White, it was one of those mind-bending experiences one cherishes years later. Bob was there on a fact-finding mission, dragging along some Senate aides and the like to meet the president and assorted rogues and saints. It was...

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The 'Bent Twig' of Arabia: A Note on the Origins of Jihadism

(10) Comments | Posted October 8, 2014 | 6:17 PM

The Champs Elysées might be an odd place to consider the rapid metastasis of jihad, but on a recent visit viewing the grandeur of the Arc de Triomphe at one end and the Place de la Concorde visible down the bustling boulevard did bring to mind an abiding lesson. The...

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The Root of Our Foreign Policy Blunders

(47) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 2:40 PM

And so the inevitable is unfolding: a possible collapse of the U.S.-imposed Iraqi state, the apparent triumph of the most brutal extremists in the world, and more to come in Syria, Afghanistan, and possibly Jordan, Mali, Libya, and who knows where else. The first step to recovery -- if recovery...

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Stumbling Toward the Finish Line: US, Iran, and the 'Peace Process'

(9) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 12:53 PM

Last week if you read my Twitter feed you'd think the nuclear negotiations with Iran were sinking fast. Little if any progress was made at the meeting in Vienna's resplendent Coburg Palace, where Iranians met their negotiating partners from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China. Much hand...

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The Usual Suspects Aim to Spoil Iran Nuclear Deal

(75) Comments | Posted April 24, 2014 | 4:16 PM

As the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program proceed -- apparently with steady progress toward a comprehensive agreement -- and Iran demonstrates to the world it is abiding by the interim agreement signed last fall, the usual suspects who hope to derail this progress have been relatively quiet. But we...

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US-Iran Misperceptions

(10) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 2:35 PM

Co-authored by Abbas Maleki

Misperceptions often rule international politics. Nation-states foster narratives about themselves and their rivals, and those narratives gain a life of their own. These narratives -- heroic renderings of one's own history laced with suspicions about others' intentions -- create a sturdy frame for understanding global politics....

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Israel: The Chimera of Friendship

(83) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 4:34 PM

A standard trope of U.S. politics is that Israel is America's major ally in the Middle East, the friendship being born of Harry Truman's support for the creation of Israel in 1948 and the "shared values" of democratic governance and open societies. The sugary paeans of mutual adoration have been...

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Why Not Hillary

(173) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 2:31 PM

The Hillary Clinton bandwagon is running at full steam. The news/social media have all but elected her president three years hence, while the putative candidate has scarcely lifted a finger to the wind, let alone the ignition.

Just as Democrats continue to howl about voter suppression and other democracy-snuffing tricks...

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Winners and Whiners in the Middle East

(27) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 8:00 AM

It never ceases to amaze me when traveling abroad precisely how the United States is viewed as a global power. I saw this again after participating in two very different gatherings in Istanbul last week, and reading over those same days Israel's and Saudi Arabia's complaints about U.S. policies.

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