Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

Cook examines developments in the Middle East and their resonance in Washington.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Issues & Topics"

Welcome to Syria, President Trump: Years of Rational Policy Led to This Horror, and There’s No Easy Way Out

by Steven A. Cook
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers an statement about missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

This article was originally published here on Salon.com on Friday, April 7, 2017.

It happened again. Syrian government forces used a chemical weapon against the town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib province. The horrifying photos were too much to bear, especially given the large number of dead children. Social media when into righteous — and appropriate — rage over the latest of President Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes but then quickly deteriorated into point scoring among supporters of President Donald J. Trump and former President Barack Obama. High-dudgeon Twitter is never useful, but it only got worse when the White House released a statement quite rightly calling the attack “reprehensible” and “heinous.” Few failed to notice that the Trump administration’s response to atrocities in Syria sounded a lot like its predecessor’s denunciations of the same. A good time was had by all. Read more »

Bill Maher Makes Us Dumber: How Ignorance, Fear and Stupid Pop-Culture Clichés Shape Americans’ View of the Middle East

by Steven A. Cook
Comedian Bill Maher - 89th Academy Awards - Oscars Vanity Fair Party - Beverly Hills, California (Danny Moloshok/Reuters).

This article, which I wrote with my good friend Michael Brooks—co-host of the award-winning independent political talk show The Majority Report and co-host of the trends and business podcast 2 Dope Boys & a Podcast—originally appeared here on Salon.com on Sunday, March 26, 2017. Read more »

The Deep State Mirage in Turkey

by Steven A. Cook
People wear masks depicting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally (Umit Bektas/Reuters).

This article originally appeared here in the Cipher Brief on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

The so-called “deep state” is like dark matter. There is wide belief in countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan that it exists, but no one has ever actually seen it. The term has now—rather surprisingly—become a part of the political lexicon in the United States. Among many others, President Donald J. Trump’s senior policy advisor, Stephen K. Bannon, and prominent radio personality Rush Limbaugh have invoked the deep state to explain the damaging leaks that have come out of the White House, and allegedly the intelligence community, during the administration’s first 60 days in office. These claims have been met with significant criticism, but it seems that in the polarized political environment that characterizes the United States today, the idea of the deep state is here to stay. Read more »

Should the U.S. Maintain its Alliance With Saudi Arabia? Unfortunately, We’re Stuck With Them

by Steven A. Cook
Saudi Arabia's King Salman attends a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony in Putrajaya, Malaysia (Edgar Su/Reuters).

This article was originally published here at Salon.com on Sunday, February 26, 2017.

In late January, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the minister of defense, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the King Faisal Air Academy. On the occasion, the Saudis reportedly added to their fleet of warplanes a number of brand new F-15SAs. The new planes are a variant of the Boeing-manufactured F-15 fighter jets and are part of a $29.4 billion deal signed in late 2011 that includes 84 new F-15SAs and an additional 68 of the F-15S variant that will be upgraded. Read more »