America’s Suicidal Statecraft in the Middle East

An Egyptian newspaper criticized failure of Bush foreign policy in the region. Nothing “reveals the decline of the United States in the region better than the contrast between America’s sober use of power in the first Gulf War and the hubris and deceit of today’s Iraq War.” It points out how earlier the United States forged an international alliance, including major European and Arab nations, but the current effort has “been utter failure: military defeat and a severe degradation of America’s moral standing. Rather than undermining radical Islam, the United States has legitimized it, in Iraq and beyond.”

George Bush has never grasped that Iran is NOT considered by Middle East nations as an Arab society, it has always been viewed as belonging to something outside of the Arab world. Iraq has become the first Shiite governed Arab nation, which is a rather revolutionary development in history. Americans forget that 80% of the world’s Muslim people are Sunni. Does anyone recall how Rumsfeld didn’t even know the difference between Sunni and Shiite when the Iraq War began?

Shlomo Ben-Ami in the Egyptian Daily Star points out “America’s biggest strategic blunder in the Middle East arguably concerns the emergence of Iranian power.” Iraq under Saddam was ruled by an evil dictator but it served as a counterbalance to the power of a radical Shiite nation—Iran. There is only one viable alternative, given Bush’s folly, drawing upon Syria, and long term, moderate forces within Iran. This requires patience, abandonment of rhetoric and working toward bringing Iran within the international fabric.

After the end of World War II, George Kennan wrote his famous piece which became the foundation of American foreign policy for the following fifty years. In his essay, Kennan urged the American government to tone down rhetoric and work slowly to supporting democratic forces within the Soviet Union, which eventually would come to the surface. This should be the foundation of our Middle East policy – there are definitely major moderate, democratic groups within Iran. Let us help them by working with the existing Iranian government in a cooperative manner. Such a policy seeks long-term, not immediate, results.
Information from Daily Star, Egypt