Friday, December 30, 2005

The Middle East and America in 2005: How the Region Has Changed

"The Bush administration has several major policy goals in the Middle East, which are often self-contradictory. They include:

1. Fighting terrorism emanating from the region, which might menace the US or its major allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

2. Ensuring the security of petroleum production in the Oil Gulf, which contains 2/3s of the world's proven reserves.

3. Reestablishing order in Afghanistan and ensuring that the Taliban and al-Qaeda cannot again use it as a base for Muslim radicalism.

4. Reestablishing order in Iraq and ensuring a government and system there favorable to US interests.

5. Weakening or overthrowing the governments of Syria and Iran, primarily because they are viewed as threats to Israel. As part of weakening Syria, the US applied enormous pressure to get its remaining troops out of Lebanon.

6. Pushing for democratization in the "Greater Middle East," even at the risk of alienating long-time US friends such as Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak....

...I'd give the Bush administration a "D" (60 out of 100) on the Middle East this year. Support for the end of two military occupations, in Gaza and Lebanon, pull up the averages. But much of the policy is self-contradictory, in disarray, or likely to cause some wars. None of that makes us safer."
Juan Cole


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