Monday, March 28, 2011

".. On reflection, though ,a Middle East beset by the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict cannot serve our interest in regional stability.."

".... American credibility, already low, has hit rock bottom.  This holds for government elites (e.g. Saudi Arabia) and for public opinion everywhere.  We are widely distrusted; Washington’s words and those of President Obama in particular will be viewed with pronounced skepticism and will nowhere be taken at face value.  The U.S. will receive fewer benefits of the doubt.
The United States is no longer a status quo power in the Middle East.  It is a reactionary power by objective measures.The political power of fundamentalist Islam has been greatly exaggerated.  In no country has it been the primary force as either ideology or organized movement.  Whatever role they may play in the future, it would be a cardinal error to fix on fundamentalist groups as a main point of attention and as a measure of whether things are going in a positive direction.
The dangers posed to the United States by terrorist groups, too, have been greatly exaggerated This is true not only as regards the assumption as to some link between Islamic fundamentalism in general and al-Qaida in particular. It holds as well for official estimates of the latter’s capability and threat.  The terrorist factor should be given less weight than is done currently.... Expressed worries about losing the help of Gadaffi’s intelligence services in chasing after al-Qaida in the Sahara is an even clearer demonstration of the extremity of our obsession.
Our ability to maintain the 5 party coalition in support of Israeli’s draconian plans for Palestine is in jeopardy.  Egypt (above all), Saudi Arabia and Jordan will come under increasing popular pressure to change their policies, and will be more susceptible to it, than in the past.  Brutalization of the Gazans, forcing Fatah into humiliating concessions, and holding hands with the Israeli ultras will be harder for our Arab allies to tolerate.  That should be welcomed as occasion to rethink our supine kow-towing to the Netanyahu government.  Id we don’t, our high wire act could end in tragedy.
The Sunni-Shi’ite rivalry has deepened and become more embittered – largely due to events in Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia.  Doubtless this will solidify already strong backing for our hard line approach toward Tehran.  Whatever thoughts there may have been among Sunni governments about negotiating a modus vivendi  with Iran are now beyond the pale. In the short run, the Obama administration may see this as desirable given its commitment to coerce Iran into abandoning its nuclear problem and its hopes for reform change.  On reflection, though ,a Middle East beset by the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict cannot serve our interest in regional stability For its strengthens the hands of the ultras in Tehran, complicates the challenge of achieving political reconciliation in Lebanon, lays the basis for more violet and more anti-American uprisings by Shi’ites in the Gulf, and adds to the already powerful inertial forces moving Iraq further away from the United states.
The gap between American rhetoric and American actions has widened to the point where it no longer is bridgeable.... If Washington is widely seen as abandoning its native idealism, domestic political support for the inescapable hard policy choices that lie ahead will be unpredictable.
Do not expect President Obama to address frankly any of this tonight."

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