Sunday, April 20, 2008

Heckuva Job, Dubya

In an op-ed piece for Pakistan's Daily Times, former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami takes a look at "Bush's New Middle East" and concludes that this administration accomplished the exact opposite of what it had intended for this part of the world.

President George W Bush’s declaration of “mission accomplished” in Iraq five years ago was as hubristic as his current assessment that the “surge” has “delivered a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror” is a fantasy. The Iraq adventure is not only the longest and most expensive war in America’s history...the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz has advanced a staggering estimate of $3 trillion...but is also the least conclusive. ...

Strategically, the war was an utter failure. A clear case of imperial overstretch, the war strained America’s military, undermined the America’s moral standing worldwide and its reputation in the Middle East, severely threatened its economy, and showed to both friends and foes the limits of American power. ...

If anything, America’s debacle in Iraq has only emboldened the challengers of the status quo in the region. That has also been the result of Bush’s ill-conceived democracy crusade in the Arab world. Bush discovered to his dismay that any exercise in Arab democracy is bound to usher in anti-Western Islamists, be it the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Shia parties in Iraq, or Hamas in Palestine.

The US eventually had to abandon its fantasies about Western-style Arab democracy, but it ironically left the Iranians carrying the torch of democracy in the region. After all, Iran was quick to recognise that free elections are the safest way to undermine the Middle East’s pro-American regimes.

And this administration's failures in Iraq have also had consequences for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which Mr. Bush suddenly remembered this year as the clock began to run on his tenure. He can no longer count on the "moderate" Arab leaders the US has been propping up for decades in the region because their power is being threatened by their own citizens who have discovered that the US isn't the all-powerful bully they had always feared:

America’s inability to inspire the peoples of the Middle East, all ruled by US-backed autocracies, is not exactly stunning news. What is news is that American power might also be losing its ability to intimidate them.

The US is going to be taking gas (excuse the metaphor) for a long time as a result of this administration's imperialistic hubris. The Program for the New American Century turns out to have been a lousy road map.

275 days.

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