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John Tirman
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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

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

(10) Comments | Posted October 8, 2014 | 5:17 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

(55) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 1:40 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 | 11:53 AM

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 | 3:16 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 | 1:35 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 | 3:34 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 | 1:31 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 | 7:00 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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War's Violence and Why It Matters

(37) Comments | Posted October 17, 2013 | 9:21 AM

The war memorials so famously closed during the GOP-induced shutdown are notable for many things, but one of them is rarely mentioned -- the absence of any mention of the civilians who were killed in the wars. It's a national habit to ignore those civilians -- three million dead in...

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The Iran Snafu

(49) Comments | Posted August 2, 2013 | 9:56 AM

Those of us who have long been Iran-watchers were elated by the June election of moderate Hassan Rouhani to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of the Islamic Republic. His overwhelming plurality and the several conciliatory things he has said, appointments he's making, and his own history as a nuclear negotiator...

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The Quiet Coup: No, Not Egypt. Here.

(265) Comments | Posted July 9, 2013 | 6:09 PM

When is a coup d'etat a coup d'etat? A silly debate about the Egyptian military's complete undoing of the state (presidency, constitution, etc.) is grabbing some attention, mainly because those who applaud the military takeover don't want to describe it accurately. But it nonetheless is an interesting question. And it...

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The Death Spiral of US Influence in the Middle East

(204) Comments | Posted May 26, 2013 | 4:48 PM

Enough has been said about President Obama's speech on counter-terror last Thursday. Useful takes are Juan Cole's good news/bad news analysis, and Stephen Walt's Twitter comment, "Obama's speech was step in right direction, but have learned to watch for what he does, not for what he says.

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What You Won't Hear About Iraq

(213) Comments | Posted March 17, 2013 | 4:36 PM

The Iraq War raises many questions still, 10 years after those first bombs sought out Saddam Hussein. Most of the coverage of this tenth anniversary will focus on the decisions leading to the war, the blend of lies and arrogance in the Bush administration, which never really learned a lesson...

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Petraeus' Torture Teams

(34) Comments | Posted March 7, 2013 | 7:46 AM

One of Britain's leading newspapers, the Guardian, has just published an exposé of interrogation teams run by two U.S. operatives acting under the authority of General David Petraeus in Iraq in 2003-05. While no smoking gun -- or blood-stained billy club -- has Petraeus' fingerprints, it's clear from...

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Glass Houses in the Middle East

(12) Comments | Posted February 7, 2013 | 12:25 PM

Rescuing Syrian civilians is again a hot topic of discussion among foreign policy elites. In fact, for the nearly two years of the Syrian uprising, the West's concern over Syria has been largely driven by the human toll, specifically the death toll of non-combatants. And well it should: The numbers...

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Mali: The Case for US Action

(42) Comments | Posted January 24, 2013 | 4:57 PM

Susan Rice, America's ambassador to the United Nations, is apparently trying to build support in the Security Council for a UN peacekeeping force for Mali. That would come after the French have set back the Islamist militants that have threatened to seize control of the entire West African country. Rice's...

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Howard Zinn's Legacy

(3) Comments | Posted January 4, 2013 | 12:29 PM

When I first met Howard Zinn 40 years ago, I had known him as a leading antiwar critic, civil rights activist and radical historian. I expected a brooding and perhaps angry intellectual deeply at odds with a nation that shortly afterward reelected Richard Nixon by a landslide. But my first...

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Mourning the Children, Here and There

(39) Comments | Posted December 18, 2012 | 4:56 PM

How many children have died -- are dying every day -- because the United States bombs several Middle East countries with drones? How many children died at the hands of U.S. military firepower in Iraq?

I raise these disturbing questions to provoke some reflection on the horrible massacre in Newtown,...

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Iran Again: Obama's Strategy May Pay Off

(9) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 10:32 AM

Along with the security snafu in Benghazi, Topic A on foreign policy in the White House race has been Iran. The Islamic Republic is an easy whipping boy in U.S. politics, and so it has been again for many months. Mitt Romney has blustered relentlessly that Iran is four years...

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The Next Debate: How to Answer Romney

(172) Comments | Posted October 8, 2012 | 6:49 PM

The next Obama-Romney debate on October 16 will include foreign policy, and while the president's partisans will expect to see a newly assertive candidate, the foreign focus then and in the October 22 debate does not lend itself to such posturing. In fact, chances are strong that the debate will...

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