- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
Via Arabist.net, here’s an interesting cable, dated January 2008, from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Titled "BLUEBLOOD SHIA CLERIC COMMENTS ON "BACKWARD" SADRISTS AND SISTANI’S FEARS AND FRUSTRATIONS," the cable describes a meeting with Emad Klanter, a member of a prominent clerical family in Najaf (my emphasis):
Son of a respected Najafi Ayatollah, nephew to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, related by marriage to Muqtada al-Sadr, and bearing a faint resemblance to the actor Robert De Niro, Klanter is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad but was not wearing the traditional Shia Sayyid’s garb of black turban and cloak during our meeting at the IZ villa of Saad Jabr, a Saddam-era exile opposition financier and son of Iraq’s first Shia Prime Minister.
It goes on to find Klanter, who calls the Sadrists "backward, almost like they are from a cave," fretting about will happen when U.S. troops leave. " Swinging his arms into an abbreviated ‘Gator Chomp’ type of gesture," the cable’s author relays, "he said that if the U.S, leaves ‘Iran will swallow us whole.’"
Or maybe Saudi Arabi will. Another interesting cable dated September 2009 and signed by former U.S. ambassador Christopher Hill paraphrases one interlocutor saying that "Saudi influence in Iraq was significant, perhaps more significant than Iran’s at the moment, given the financial and media assets at its disposal, and given Iran’s recent internal distractions."