Our Most Peculiar President

How did a man with such a hard-right reputation become one of the most liberal presidents ever?

The Wall Street Journal

JUN 19, 2015


By Evan Thomas 
Random House, 619 pages, $35


By Tim Weiner 
Henry Holt, 369 pages, $30

Has the United States ever had a weirder president than Richard Nixon? The fact that his only close competitors in this regard are his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, and his indirect successor, Jimmy Carter, could help to explain why the ’60s and ’70s were such troubled times for this country. But even LBJ (who loved to lecture aides while sitting on the toilet) and Mr. Carter (who claimed to have been attacked by a “killer rabbit” and to have experienced “lust in his heart”) could not match Nixon for sheer bizarreness. Evan Thomas’s terrifically engaging biography contains many choice examples.

Read more: Our Most Peculiar President

The new Joint Chiefs chairman should strive for independent thinking

Los Angeles Times

MAY 7, 2015

President Obama has nominated Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford waged war effectively in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But it's one thing to be a battlefield commander, even a four-star theater commander, and another thing to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs — a job that is more political than strictly military.

What kind of chairman will he be? History suggests that he will struggle to make his mark.

Read more: The new Joint Chiefs chairman should strive for independent thinking

Happy Talk Won't Defeat Islamic State

Statistics being touted by the Pentagon have a whiff of the Vietnam War about them.

Wall Street Journal

APR 23, 2015

Nearly eight months have passed since President Obama pledged to take on the terrorist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. “We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” Mr. Obama vowed. How is that campaign going?

Read more: Happy Talk Won't Defeat Islamic State

The Wrong Lessons From North Korea

Avoiding a Nuclear Iran

Foreign Affairs


APR 22, 2015

The case of North Korea clearly exposes the dangers of the United States seeking a nuclear agreement with a state that has no intention of abiding by one. The 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework, which called on North Korea to freeze the operation and construction of nuclear reactors, collapsed within a decade of its signing. In 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, and today it is a full-fledged nuclear power. The United States’ experience with North Korea should make it wary of similar nuclear negotiations, especially with Iran.

Read more: The Wrong Lessons From North Korea

Iraq's Unlikely Eulogist

There was no more improbable duo than Odierno, the hulking general with a shaved head, and his petite English adviser.

The Wall Street Journal

APR 13, 2015

By Emma Sky 
PublicAffairs, 382 pages, $28.99

The British Empire, which at one time dominated the lands stretching from Egypt to Persia, produced a long line of distinguished if often eccentric Arabists —Richard Francis Burton,Gertrude Bell, St. John Philby, T.E. Lawrence, Freya Stark, Wilfred Thesiger and more.

Read more: Iraq's Unlikely Eulogist

Remember the Carter Doctrine

A better way forward in the Middle East.

The Weekly Standard


APR 20, 2015

The ouster of ISIS fighters from Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, has been widely celebrated. Although this victory was brought about in no small part by American airpower, it was a triumph for Iran more than for the United States. The vast majority of fighters on the front lines belonged to Shiite militias, many of them trained, equipped, and advised by the Iranians. Their de facto commander is Gen. Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force, which is charged with exporting the Iranian revolution. He has become a seemingly ubiquitous presence on the front lines, his appearances celebrated through a clever Iranian social media campaign. Iranian T-72 tanks and even Fajr-5 artillery rockets and Fateh-110 missiles are now appearing in Iraq as well.

Read more: Remember the Carter Doctrine

“Destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest . . . hardest form of war.” —John Nagl, Wall Street Journal


"Enormous, brilliant and important…. Terrific… Astute… Boot’s Invisible Armies should be required reading in the White House and Pentagon." —Michael Korda, Daily Beast

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