Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Huber Matos, R.I.P.

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 27, 2014
Photo: By Gabematos35 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Photo: By Gabematos35 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Huber Matos, a great hero of the struggle for freedom in Cuba died today at age 95.

Matos was a revolutionary comandante in the Cuban revolution, a leader of the struggle against the Batista dictatorship. He later broke with Fidel Castro when it became apparent that Castro was fighting for personal power and for a communist system, not for freedom. For this, Castro had him imprisoned for twenty years, from 1959 to 1979, and he described the maltreatment, brutality, and torture to which he was subjected in his memoir Como Llego La Noche (How The Night Came). Read more »

Algeria, Young and Old

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 27, 2014

The median age of the Algerian population is 27 years, and 46 percent of the population is under the age of 24. But its president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is 76 years old, and is now set to take another five-year term that will have him in office at age 80. And Mr. Bouteflika is already suffering from poor health that has led him to spend months on end in France for medical treatment. Read more »

Royal Tourism

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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The heir to the British throne is shown in this photo during a “private visit” to Saudi Arabia. Such a visit is entirely appropriate, but it is a reminder that the British royals appear to have an allergy to visiting Israel. The Queen has never set foot there. Prince Charles did attend the Rabin funeral, but has never gone back and never made an official visit. Such a visit is occasionally hinted at or predicted, but then never gets scheduled. The continuing failure or refusal of any royal to make an official or state visit to Israel is an anomaly that suggests bias, and undermines potential British influence in the region.

Push Polls and Cuba

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 14, 2014

You can’t always get what you want, the Rolling Stones once told us. But you can, actually, in a push poll: a poll designed to elicit a certain result and then advertised as achieving that result.

This past week the Atlantic Council released a poll it had sponsored about U.S. relations with Cuba. Here’s one key aspect of the poll: When respondents were told “Cuba continues to have a dismal human rights record. The Castro regime represses virtually all forms of political dissent through detentions, arbitrary arrests, beatings, travel restrictions, forced exile, and sentencing dissidents in closed trials,” we find that 33 percent this was a “very important” reason to keep the current U.S. policy and 17 percent said it’s “somewhat important,” for a total of 50 percent. And 43 percent the human rights abuses make it somewhat important or very important to change the policy. Read more »

The Cost of the “Peace Process”

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 13, 2014

The goal of Secretary of State Kerry’s energetic diplomacy with the Israelis and Palestinians is the two-state solution, which means the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestine living at peace with its neighbor Israel.

Or is it? What’s missing in that sentence is the word “democratic.” Do we care? Once upon a time, the United States worked hard to give Yasser Arafat, a terrorist and thief, a state to rule. That policy was changed in the George W. Bush administration, when we began to care not only about the borders of the new Palestine but was within those borders. Bush said he would not support establishment of a Palestinian state if that state would just be another dictatorship, another kleptocracy, another home for terrorism. Read more »

Can We Contain Iran?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, February 10, 2014

If Iran gets nuclear weapons, can it be “contained?” After all, we contained the Soviet Union–which was far stronger than Iran.

That Cold War analogy is misleading, I argue in an article this week in The Weekly Standard. During the Cold War we took a vigorous military and ideological stand against the Soviets, from hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, to proxy forces in Afghanistan, to President Reagan’s comments that the Soviets constituted an “evil empire” and would end up on “the ash heap of history.” We negotiated, but we also fought, in ways that we are not doing when it comes to Iran. Read more »

The Muslim Brothers in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Doing some research for a project,  I came across this interesting assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its role in politics there:

The record of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt following [Hassan al] Banna’s assassination shows that this essentially popular protest movement directed against misgovernment and oppression by the rulers sought total power for itself as the only efficacious remedy for social and political ills. After the military coup d’etat of 1952,the Brothers were in hopes that the new regime, which included officers who had sympathized with, or even belonged to, the movement, would move to institute the godly rule for which it hankered. The Brothers were sorely disappointed. The new rulers, led by Nasser, were willing neither to accept the Brothers’ ideology nor to allow them even a share of power. Read more »

“Soft Bigotry,” Secretary Kerry, and the PLO

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, February 2, 2014

Secretary of State Kerry continues to press forward in his negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians, seeking some sort of “framework” document that would be an acceptable basis for future negotiations. We’ve been here before: the “Roadmap” of 2003 was supposed to provide such a basis and was accepted–with reservations–by both sides. My guess is that Kerry will succeed, if success is defined as keeping both sides at the table. Read more »