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Amman, Jordan

I watched quietly from my window as 2004 turned to 2005. Fireworks sprouted from the horizon in four or five places – some of them large parties or hotel celebrations, others private revelry. The explosions and firecrackers continued for the better part of half an hour (with the left-overs being set off throughout the day today).

US government criticized for slow aid, but tsunami relief attracts record private donations online

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 -- By the time President Bush spoke publicly yesterday and promised U.S. leadership in tsunami relief, a wave of donations from individuals had swept over the Internet.

Amman, Jordan

Earlier this week the New York Times carried a long article about American preparations for next month’s Iraqi elections. The piece focused on a plan, currently being considered by the United States, to guarantee a certain number of seats in Iraq’s National Assembly and/or its cabinet to Sunni Arabs regardless of the result of the actual vote.

December 26, 2004

Amman, Jordan

Saturday morning in Amman was so foggy that, in our own way, we actually did have a white Christmas. On the 23rd Mecca Mall was as crowded as any American mall on the day before Christmas Eve (though since Thursday is the end of the work week here it was difficult to say how much of that was holiday traffic as opposed to the ordinary weekend crush), with virtually every shop displaying holiday decorations of some sort.

Amman, Jordan

I’d hate to be a US official working on public diplomacy issues in the Middle East these days. Promoting American values and policy. Convincing a skeptical audience that the United States is not an evil, imperial power. How is one supposed to do these things when the bosses back in Washington seem hell-bent on undermining those sentiments in the interest of short-term political gain, or simple bloody-minded payback?

WASHINGTON Dec. 20 -- Thomas P.M. Barnett is sizzling.

He was just anointed "red hot" by the Washington Post for his new book, "The Pentagon’s New Map."

Earlier this month, Barnett gave a much-discussed lecture at the Pentagon's annual Highlands Forum (link broken, but see description here).

Amman, Jordan

This weekend I did something I’ve never done before: I bought an artificial Christmas tree. For someone who grew up in New England this was a big step. There have been Christmases (like that one in Saudi Arabia back in the ‘80s) when I did without, or made due with a scruffy bush. But it was a source of pride that I had never before permitted a fake tree inside my home.

December 16, 2004

Amman, Jordan

So, the next Palestinian Authority president will not be selected in a real, competitive election after all. Earlier this week Marwan Barghouti pulled out of next month's contest to replace Yasser Arafat. His move clears the way for Mahmoud Abbas's ascendance to the post. A
number of other candidates remain, but none have the name recognition, street credibility or organizational clout that is lined up behind Abbas (who is commonly referred to as Abu Mazen).



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