Michael Young at PostGlobal

Michael Young

Beirut, Lebanon

Michael Young is the Opinion Editor and a columnist for Lebanon’s The Daily Star newspaper. He is also a contributing editor and contributor at Reason magazine, where he writes bi-weely articles. Close.

Michael Young

Beirut, Lebanon

Michael Young is the Opinion Editor and a columnist for Lebanon’s The Daily Star newspaper. more »

Main Page | Michael Young Archives | PostGlobal Archives

May 29, 2008 10:41 AM

Oprah, The Intellectual Litmus Test

The Current Discussion: The American magazine Foreign Policy and British magazine Prospect have published a joint list of the world's Top 100 Public Intellectuals. The list includes several PostGlobal panelists. Who's missing from the list? Who would you take off?

The literati will cringe, but the first name I always search out for on these lists is Oprah Winfrey. Why? Because when she’s not on a list, you know that the thinking that went into preparing it follows a very traditional pattern of what a public intellectual should conform to.

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April 2, 2008 9:00 AM

Don't Push Hamas to the Table

Rather than debate whether it's time to negotiate with Hamas, the real question is "negotiate over what?" Until that answer becomes clear, the idea of negotiating just for the sake of negotiating would be a waste of time, and would probably only lead to an escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

There is a spectre haunting diplomatic groupthink today in the United States, particularly among critics of the Bush administration. It holds that where there is a problem, there must be American and international "engagement." A problem with Iran? Engage Iran. With Syria? Engage Syria. Blockage in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations? Well, let's try something different and talk to Hamas.

But almost never does anyone think this through. Talk to Hamas about what? Indeed, what does Hamas care to talk about? No one ever credibly explains that part. Instead, we are presented with this proposition: Hamas may not be sincere in wanting peace with Israel, but until we talk to the movement we won't know.

But that vacuous argument comes with stringent costs. If states engage Hamas today, then they can say goodbye to Fatah and to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Is that desirable? Negotiating with Hamas will also in many ways mean indirectly negotiating with Iran and Syria, and neither has any interest in encouraging Hamas to give up violence. Does the international community really want to bargain with Iran and Syria to resolve the Palestinian conflict? Do Damascus and Tehran have any aim other than to use Palestinians to advance their own agendas? Is that dependency where everyone wants to push the Palestinians?

Also, what do those engaging Hamas get in exchange for doing so? After all, Hamas would be rewarded by recognition; but what would it be willing to give up?

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March 3, 2008 10:17 AM

Hollywood's Foreign Gleam

The Current Discussion: All four Oscars for best acting went to non-Americans. Is Hollywood's cultural hegemony finally breaking up? Or are we Hollywoodizing foreign talents like Javier Bardem and Marion Cotillard?

When non-Americans do well in Hollywood, it’s further proof that the debate on cultural hegemony entirely misstates the nature of culture in general, mistakenly depicting it as something static and one-sided.

Culture, and cinematic culture in particular, has always been about admixtures, optimal blends, the impetus to appeal to as many people as possible—and to make money. That’s why from the outset Hollywood attracted foreigners. Chaplin was British. Von Stroheim was German; Garbo was Swedish, and so on. Far from being an example of American cultural hegemony, Hollywood was a fantastic, equal-opportunity Moloch, swallowing what and who it could to produce art for profit’s sake, and rather often for art’s sake, as the MGM lion informs us.

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July 26, 2007 4:27 PM

A Morbidly Entertaining Stalin

I'm not sure learning and escaping are so contradictory. Some might object to one of my suggestions, Simon Sebag Montefiore's remarkable "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar," as a summer tome, but you'll learn a lot and, somehow, it's morbidly quite entertaining. For escape, and a lot more, I would recommend "Dino," Nick Tosches' bio of Dean Martin, because by the end you won't be quite sure what hit you.

June 23, 2007 2:36 PM

Being a Bargaining Chip May Mean Survival

Western reporters long ago lost their "white flag" of neutrality, and it's not coming back. My own concern, however, is as much for local reporters in crisis countries, whose fates rarely get written up.

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May 2, 2007 9:29 AM

America, It's Your Baby

The Iraqi mine has exploded once, and will explode again if the U.S. withdraws, but this time the explosion will be far worse. That's why the real question is whether the U.S. can withstand the moral implications of abandoning Iraq to a vicious civil war.

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March 22, 2007 2:54 PM

Arabs May Quarrel, But Never Really Divorce

Ethnic and religious groups fight each other for many reasons, rarely good ones, but the most enduring problem is the perception of suffering. Few things mobilize groups, particularly minorities, more than narratives of historical woe and ongoing suffering.

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January 4, 2007 5:03 AM

Iraq Won't Change Much

Beirut, Lebanon - By the end of 2007, the American presence in Iraq, despite much fiddling and fidgeting, will be basically the same as it is today. 2008 wont be much different.

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November 21, 2006 3:43 PM

Syria's Demands, Hezbollah's Mistakes

Beirut, Lebanon - The assassination today of Lebanon's industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, must be understood in the context of the ongoing effort by Syria to undermine the mixed Lebanese-international tribunal currently being set up to try suspects in the assassination of the late prime minister, Rafiq Hariri. The Syrians are the most likely culprits in that crime, and if the tribunal is set up, the regime of President Bashar Assad may have very few means to prevent its own demise, or, at best, international pariah status.

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October 4, 2006 12:45 PM

America Must Not Cut and Run

Beirut, Lebanon - "Federalism plus" in Iraq is a nice word for partition. However, it won't work if its primary aim is to give the Americans an opportunity to pick up and run. Iraqis must take the lead in defining their own future, and the U.S. has a duty to support this -- at least within (those fateful Vietnam-era words) a decent interval, to ensure a stable outcome.

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.