by William R. Polk...former member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Council, Polk was responsible for the Middle East. He has been
January 5, 2005

by William R. Polk...former member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Council, Polk was responsible for the Middle East. He has been a professor of history at the University of Chicago and Founding Director of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He is now senior director of the W.P. Carey Foundation. American Conservative Magazine

From childhood, we Americans are deluged with slogans. We often select our breakfast food, our soap, and our toothpaste by jingles and catchphrases rather than by reading the labels. So we fall easily into accepting evocative expressions in place of analysis even when it comes to national security. Our parents were sold on the slogan that the First World War was the “war to end all wars,” although the 20th century had more of them than any other in history. We went into Vietnam fearing the “domino effect,” although the struggle there had little relationship to events in any other Asian country. We were rushed into the war in Iraq by the assertion that little, poor, remote Iraq was at the point of attacking mighty America, and now we are bogged down there allegedly by a ragtag faction of Ba’athist diehards.

Seldom do we hear hard-headed analysis of what is happening, what is possible, what the alternatives are, how much each will cost in lives, treasure, prestige, and security. When I was the member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East, I had the duty to try to understand the reality in the problems we then faced, to comprehend the forces at work, and to identify what could be done. Now as a private citizen, I ask: what is the reality of Iraq, what do we face there, and what can we do? More

The Tsunami Crisis Center for American Progress

The crisis in the Indian Ocean has left the world stunned and saddened by the scope of the loss. We are heartened, however, by the outpouring of public and private support to provide immediate relief to the people of the region. Now, with billions of dollars pledged to these efforts, the world community has an obligation to monitor the short- and long-term outcome of the global relief operation. How we spend those dollars will ultimately determine our collective success – or failure – in meeting this enormous challenge. Here are seven issues to keep your eye on as this story unfolds.

Why is Colin Powell Lying? Crooks and Liars

On the Today show Wednesday morning, Colin Powell said that the "initial" U.S. commitment to the disaster relief in South Asia was "$350,000,000". Go on over to More

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.