Stephen Holmes

Stephen Holmes teaches at NYU School of Law and is the author of The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror.

Recent Articles

The ISIS Trap That the United States Must Avoid

Our efforts will be self-defeating if we drive Sunni nationalists closer to ISIS.

RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
White House officials have confirmed that Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, meeting in Antalya at the G20 summit, have just agreed to “a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition.” But since Russian involvement in Syria to date has threatened not to alleviate but to deepen the conflict, any Russian-American rapprochement must be shaped to avoid the indiscriminate bombings of all anti-Assad forces that Russia has conducted up till now. If, however, allowing Putin to take some credit for a solution can help bring the Assad regime to the bargaining table, all to the good. But for an effort to “eliminate” the Islamic State and to bring about a “peaceful transition” in Syria (Obama’s words in Antalya), we need to conduct the negotiations with a game plan radically different from the one guiding Russian—and indeed American—policy thus far. As the sickening Paris massacre compels Obama to reconsider the U.S. approach to the Syrian...

Chicken Little Goes to Europe

Western Europe is being transformed by immigrants from the Islamic world. But they are not the enemy within.

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West by Christopher Caldwell, Doubleday, 422 pages, $30.00 What will be the consequences for Europe of decades of immigration, much of it from the Muslim world? In the eyes of Christopher Caldwell, a culturally conservative columnist at the Financial Times and an editor at the Weekly Standard , Europe is being remade, or rather unmade, from the ground up. As a result of the growing "nation of Islam" in Europe -- including 5 million Muslims in France, 4 million in Germany, and 2 million in Great Britain -- societies that used to be homogeneous and therefore coherent have become multicultural and internally divided. But multiculturalism may be merely a halfway house. Echoing Edmund Burke in his title, Caldwell suggests that Europe is undergoing a "revolution" vaguely analogous to what happened in France in 1789. In his first letters on those events, Burke claimed to see a human society being dissolved and replaced by a...

The European Dilemma

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Free Press, 368 pages, $26.00) Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance by Ian Buruma (Penguin, 288 pages, $24.95) The world came to know Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a result of the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, with whom she had collaborated on a film holding Islam responsible for the battering and humiliation of Muslim women. In November 2004, a Moroccan Dutch Islamist named Mohammed Bouyeri shot van Gogh in a street in Amsterdam, slit his throat, and pinned to his body a death threat against Hirsi Ali, who was already a highly visible member of the Dutch parliament despite having arrived in the Netherlands as a Somali immigrant only 12 years earlier. Now living in the United States, she has been alternately celebrated and excoriated on both sides of the Atlantic as an uncompromising critic not only of Islam but also of multiculturalism, which she contends is mistakenly tolerant of the Muslim world's endemic...

How the War Was Lost

Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor ( Pantheon Books, 603 pages, $27.95 ) This vivid book wraps a political bombshell inside a riveting tale. Its central chapters deliver a blow-by-blow account of the unstoppable American dash toward Baghdad, blinding sandstorms and all, in March and April 2003. The co-authors -- Michael Gordon is the senior war correspondent for The New York Times ; Bernard Trainor, a former Marine Corps lieutenant general -- tell stories of skilled leadership, combat heroics, and the campaign's ultimate success at driving Saddam Hussein from power, without neglecting the inevitable battlefield snafus, poor coordination among combatant units, wildly misleading intelligence, and scenes of gruesome carnage. For the American invaders, the greatest surprise turned out to have been the unconventional tactics of the enemy. On the drive to Baghdad, U.S. forces did not initially confront, as they had been...

Must Democracy Wait?

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria, W.W. Norton, 286 pages, $24.95 Fareed Zakaria's wide-ranging examination of the difficulties and downsides of democracy makes gripping reading today, especially as the Bush administration announces its plans to hand a shocked and awed Iraq back to the Iraqis. Writing before the toppling of the Baath regime in Baghdad, Zakaria speculates, "Were the United States to dislodge Saddam and -- far more important -- engage in a serious, long-term project of nation-building, Iraq could well become the first major Arab country to combine Arab culture with economic dynamism, religious tolerance, liberal politics, and a modern outlook on the world." And, because "success is infectious," Zakaria suggests that there is merit to the theory popular among hawks that sees a new Iraq as the ignition of a democratic chain reaction throughout the Middle East. As a realistic observer of world events, however, Zakaria can...