Category: Middle East

It’s OK to Lose a Little Face Over Syria

K.C. COLE, professor of journalism, USC Annenberg.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 23.

A mathematical solution in Syria? That’s not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, the working compromise is a classic case of the power of game theory, a branch of mathematics that analyzes the best possible outcomes in conflicts where neither side knows what the other will do. It’s not about winning as much as it is finding the least worst option, which is precisely what Presidents Obama, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and company have done.

No one gets exactly what he wants. But no one loses everything either.

Iran’s in the Mood to Negotiate on its Nuclear Program

HASHEM PESARAN, professor of economics, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Guardian on Sept. 17.

It is well documented that economic sanctions on their own have not generally been effective in achieving their political aims, particularly when they are imposed against non-democratic regimes. Sanctions have their greatest impact in the short term, as their effects tend to be mitigated in the longer term by structural economic and political adjustments. Overall, effective sanctions have been short-lived, whilst ineffective ones have lasted a long time.

Romney Courting an Unlikely GOP Constituency

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Have you heard the one about the Westside Jewish Republican Club? Its members take turns hosting the gatherings, and they meet each month in the host’s car.

The Democrats‘ advantage among Jewish voters might not be quite that extreme, but there’s no question that the Jewish community in this country has always leaned strongly toward the Democratic Party and its candidates. Read more →

Does a Play Tell the Future of Jordan’s King?

LAURIE BRAND, professor of international relations, USC Dornsife, and FAYEZ Y. HAMMAD, lecturer:

This article originally appeared at

Fahimtkum,” meaning “I get it,” (literally, “I have understood you”) became famous this time last year when then-Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali cynically proclaimed it in a speech, a last ditch effort to convince the Tunisian people that he had heard their discontent and was ready to make serious changes.

In late summer 2011, a new Jordanian political satire taking its name — “Al`an fahimtkum” (“Now I understand you”) — from the same phrase of Ben Ali’s, began running on the stage of the Concord Theatre in Amman. Using the family of a Jordanian of modest means who works as a driver for a government minister, Abu Saqr, the play’s successive scenes address a range of the country’s current political scandals and woes: from repeated references to the government’s questionable sales of state land and assets, to mocking the process by which government ministers are chosen, to raising questions about just who has been sending the baltajiyyah (thugs) to beat up protesters at opposition meetings and