Michael Hirsh

Stories by Michael Hirsh

  • Rice's Personal Mideast Plan

    The secretary of State draws on her personal history to push Israelis and Palestinians together.
  • U.S. Hands Tied on Pakistan

    How Bush's tight relationship with Pakistan's Musharraf has compromised the war on terror.
  • Hirsh: The Road to War, Part II

    With new unilateral U.S. sanctions announced Thursday, America and Iran may now be headed for unavoidable hostilities.
  • Would You Buy a Used Hawk From This Man?

    Neocons can't help but slink around Washington, D.C. The Iraq War has given the neoconservatives—who favor the assertive use of American power abroad to spread American values—something of a bad name, and several of the Republican candidates seem less than eager to hire them as advisers. But Rudy Giuliani apparently never got that memo. One of the top foreign-policy consultants to the leading GOP candidate is Norman Podhoretz, a founding father of the neocon movement.Podhoretz is in favor of bombing Iran because of the country's unwillingness to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. He also believes America is engaged in a "world war" with "Islamofascism" and that Giuliani is the only man who can win it. "I decided to join Giuliani's team because his view of the war—what I call World War IV—is very close to my own," Podhoretz tells NEWSWEEK. (World War III, in his view, was the cold war.) "And also because he has the qualities of a wartime leader, including a fighting spirit and a...
  • Reaching Across the Aisle On Iraq

    Donald Rumsfeld had little stomach for talking to members of Congress, Democrat or Republican. But his successor as Defense secretary, Robert Gates, can't seem to get enough of them—especially Democrats. This summer, Gates intervened in a nasty spat between his No. 3 deputy, Under Secretary Eric Edelman, a former adviser to Dick Cheney, and Sen. Hillary Clinton after the senator requested a briefing on a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Edelman accused her of aiding the enemy, and Cheney backed him up. But Gates wrote Clinton a conciliatory letter and ordered Edelman to brief her. Late last week Gates had lunch with the Senate Democratic Policy Committee—something Rumsfeld never did. And within days, administration sources tell NEWSWEEK, Gates is expected to appoint Bill Clinton's former deputy Defense secretary, John Hamre—a highly regarded technocrat—as chairman of his Defense Policy Board, an influential advisory body. (Hamre declined to comment on his imminent appointment...
  • Hirsh: Bob Gates Scores Quiet Victories

    To little notice, the Defense secretary  has gotten his way on Iraq, and possibly on Iran. Now, Gates is about to appoint a former top Clinton official to prove he means business.
  • Hirsh: Rating Petraeus’s Report to the Hill

    Not surprisingly, Petraeus performed smoothly in his testimony to Congress. But an internal Pentagon report is expected to 'differ substantially' from his recommendations on withdrawal from Iraq, NEWSWEEK has learned.
  • Bush’s History Problem

    Much was changing in Vietnam when I visited in December 1991, in the waning hours of the Soviet Union. The coziness between Moscow and Hanoi, once comrades, had curdled into mutual contempt. The Russians, aware their empire was imploding, had little interest in their former client-state and were looking to leave. The Vietnamese had come to despise the large Russian population for, among other things, its cheap spending habits. By contrast, they welcomed Americans—“Russians with dollars,” we were called. The day I visited the old U.S. Embassy in Saigon—where some of the iconic photos symbolizing American defeat were taken—government workmen were removing a discolored brass plaque that once commemorated the North’s victory over “U.S. imperialists.” At the time of my visit, propaganda against American involvement in Southeast Asia was no longer politically correct. Hanoi’s message: Yankees come back (and bring your investment dollars). The cold-war dominoes had fallen—just in America’s...
  • Pakistan: America’s Dubious Ally in Terror War

    Pervez Musharraf has always been a dubious ally in George W. Bush's War on Terror—the kind of guy you avert your eyes from while patting him on the back. It's not that Bush doubts the Pakistani leader's sincerity—"He shares the same concern about radicals and extremists as I do and as the American people do," the president said at an Aug. 9 news conference—it's just that Musharraf is never going to make it into Bush's democracy club. And Musharraf's ability to stop his nation's Islamist radicalism from spilling over into terrorism has always been limited. A genial autocrat who seized power in a 1999 coup and has refused to relinquish his general's uniform, Musharraf has succeeded in keeping Washington on his side by regularly handing over second-tier Qaeda suspects and by keeping tenuous control over his increasingly Islamicized country. But now Musharraf may be losing his grip on power amid rising concerns by senior U.S. officials that a new safe haven for Al Qaeda has emerged in...
  • Pakistan Ambassador Blasts U.S. Intel

    Pakistani Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani, a scholar and former general, says the government of President Pervez Musharraf is being unfairly blamed for the failure of U.S. intelligence to locate Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri. In an interview last week with NEWSWEEK’s Michael Hirsh at Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington, Durrani attacked as erroneous the recent National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Al Qaeda has “regenerated key elements” of its ability to attack the United States. The ambassador also argued that the agreement that Musharraf signed with North Waziristan’s Pashtun tribes in September 2006, which gave pro-Taliban tribal elders full control in the Pakistani region, is still intact, even though senior U.S. officials such as Homeland Security Adviser Frances Fragos Townsend say it hasn’t worked. Excerpts: ...
  • Meet the General Who Lends Gravitas to Obama

    Those who fall in with the Barack Obama campaign tend to fall hard for the man himself, and none more than Jonathan Scott Gration. A recently retired Air Force major general who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, Gration accompanied Obama on a 15-day tour of Africa last August and was, he says, simply bowled over. When the two traveled to Kenya, the homeland of Obama’s father, the U.S. presidential candidate directly confronted President Mwai Kibaki over corruption. "It was an incredible thing to watch," Gration later blogged on BarackObama.com. After the two of them went to Robben Island, the South African prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for almost three decades. Gration had something of an epiphany. "To see how Mandela saved his country by bridging racial, ethnic and in some cases cultural diversity, and turn a page from a turbulent time—I think that’s sort of what the senator’s doing," Gration told NEWSWEEK in an interview this week. "He’s using his experience to turn...
  • Why McCain’s Collapse Matters

    His campaign's sorry state isn't just a setback for the candidate. It's a sign that the country won't listen to a military man running for president—at a time when it matters most.
  • Iranian Diplomat: We’re Ready to Help in Iraq

    Mohammad Jafari isn't built like your typical diplomat. Stocky and square-jawed, with a thatch of close-cropped black hair, Jafari looks far more like the Iranian Revolutionary Guards general he once was, and he still carries the honorific title "commander." But that's precisely the issue: which role is Jafari playing now? It was Jafari whom U.S. Special Forces were after last January when they raided an Iranian outpost in Irbil, Iraq, according to a high-level Iraqi official who asked for anonymity in order to speak more freely. The raid netted five junior Iranian functionaries whom the Americans contended were members of the Quds Force, the arm of the Revolutionary Guards that is allegedly aiding in attacks on U.S. troops. Jafari escaped in a car.A few months after his dusty two-hour dash to the border, Jafari had a very different encounter with the Americans. In Sharm al-Sheikh, the posh Egyptian Red Sea resort that hosted a major regional conference on Iraq in May, he sat across...
  • Hirsh: Owning Up to an Intel Failure

    The new National Intelligence Estimate is an admission of America's strategic failure. Only by acknowledging that can we prevent a new 9/11.
  • Hirsh: Scooter and Bush's No-Fault Policy

    Given Bush's behavior on Iraq, his decision to keep Scooter out of the slammer isn't surprising. Nor is it likely to hurt the GOP at the polls either.
  • Hirsh: A New Way Out on Iran?

    U.S. and European officials are still very angry at Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for appearing to concede that Iran’s uranium-enrichment program is here to stay. “Every time he gets up there, he comes out with Iranian talking points,” snipes one Western diplomat. But NEWSWEEK has learned that the British recently drafted a proposal that shifts the West’s “red line” closer to  El Baradei’s position as a way of breaking the stalemate in the talks.The draft proposal, which is being circulated among the governments but has not yet been formally submitted to Iran, calls for a “freeze for freeze” rather than an outright suspension of enrichment. The “freeze” concept is similar to the “timeout” that ElBaradei first called for last January. In order to get talks started, both ideas effectively permit Iran to continue with the uranium enrichment it is doing already, but they demand that Tehran freeze further construction of centrifuges and...
  • Why Gaza Matters to U.S., the World

    The Israelis didn't want Palestinian elections back in January 2006. Even Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had been worried about them and kept asking for delays. As early as the spring of 2005, Abbas had warned American officials that he did not have the popular support to disarm Hamas, the Islamist party that turned suicide terror bombings into a standard tactic in Israel and which both Abbas and the Israelis saw was growing in power. But Bush administration officials insisted, confident of the curative powers of democracy. Later, after Hamas stunned the world by winning control of the Palestinian Parliament, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claimed: "Nobody saw it coming."The line could describe much of what has resulted from George W. Bush's efforts to transform the world—or at least one part of it, the Middle East. As long as the Islamists of Hamas refused to recognize Israel, the United States refused to deal with the Hamas-dominated Palestinian government. The...