The Middle East Is On The Boil
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  • Toni

    In my lifetime there’s been the G.H.W. Bush “realist” school which counted MidEast stability as America’s supreme interest in the region, and the G.W. Bush “export democracy” school. Stability is no longer an option, and the Arab Spring seems to portend nations choosing their own form of government.

    Meanwhile, might the war-weary American electorate, consumed with its own economic and fiscal troubles, develop a bent for neo-isolationism?

    The sole constant is Arab and Persian hostility toward Israel and its continued existence.

  • Robert Speirs

    The trend in the Middle East may be “dynamic” but it is hardly “pluralistic”. The movement is towards authoritarian Islam, a typical “hunkering down” response to the continuing failure of the region to develop economically and produce well-educated, rational and sane citizens.

  • Anthony

    As an American Foreign Policy expert says “The United States must stand for values and freedoms that make sense not only to ourselves but to our partners and friends around the world” ie, Middle East.

    As we seek to build/maintain a sustainable global system in an era of accelerating change, American policymakers need to refashion century old American foreign policy goals (elegant or not) to our post cold war world and its tensions and contradictions – the world is much more complicated than it used to be (post 1945).

  • Steve

    A related question is whether the US diplomatic and policy making structure is well suited to deal with such a dynamic and rapidly shifting environemnt.

    Would be interesting to hear Prof. Mead’s ideas, as much of the machinery of the US foreign policy system was built in a very bureaucratic way that much like the other great (and greatly clunky) post-war bureaucracies. That worked in the stable cold war era, but may no longer be nimble enough.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Meanwhile, might the war-weary American electorate, consumed with its own economic and fiscal troubles, develop a bent for neo-isolationism?

    Not so much as a lending-weary China might stop financing American debt, reducing defense expenditures and creating an opening for more expansive Chinese presence in MENA. It’s a global village now. Complete with adolescents.

  • A
  • Kris

    A (#6):

    So if the good ol’ Turki pays lip service to the Palestinian Arab cause, we should heel, even if it means going against our ally Israel. But when (as per Wikileaks), King Abdullah and others were imploring us to strike Iran…

  • Kris

    “The Middle East Is On The Boil”

    Lance it.

  • The region needs an unholy war waged against those who wage Holy War. Israel has fought and defeated their arab/muslim antagonists a half-dozen times so why do the same things keep recurring? Simple. When the Israelis have their enemies at their feet the US and so-called international community come and prevent the fatal stroke. The anti-semites and jihadis, largely overlapping, need a public military defeat that includes massive casualties, apocalyptic damage to their infrastructure and an explicit demonstration that Islam is a dead end, literally. Israel needs to take the initiative and make vicious unrelenting war on Egypt, Iran and any number of others, basically any politicial institution that advocates jew eradication, which is most all of them, potentially including Iraqi groups though not yet their government. Too much for you? Doesn’t matter. Anything less only emboldens the hardest of the jihadis and gives them time to arm and expand. As for the “liberalizers” in place in these nations they have one out. They must make war on the jihadis. No easy thing but even the most foolish Egyptian reformer must know that their heads are on the block BEFORE Israel’s. Of course Israel and the US should aid in the fight but any hint of islamism makes this a non-starter, so a Catch-22. Unholy war on the holy warriors. This is the only path. We could do it now with relative ease. Tomorrow, not so much.

  • Ellen

    The certainty in the Middle East is that the nations and peoples have been brought up to hate Israel, the US, and each other. They will probably continue to hate.

    All we can hope for is that people take over who think it’s too much work to kill Israel and the US. They will continue to kill each other, of course, as they have throughout recorded history. But that is their bona-fide cultural heritage, and hardly our business.

  • The West is leaving Israel with two equally unpalatable choices: Surrender or use nuclear weapons. The first choice being unthinkable, better start digging, enemies of Israel.

  • anon

    # 6 & 7,

    A similar grand gesture by Saudi Arabia would be to recognize Israel without preconditions.
    Care to comment on how likely that is?

    The real issue is whether or not the current rulers of Turkey are crazy. We know
    they are sincere.

    But do the really want to risk a naval
    battle off Israeli shores?

    Do they have an aircraft carrier they
    haven’t told anyone about?

    Perhaps they haven’t gotten the word yet about the Repulse and The Prince of Wales with no air cover vs. land based bombers?
    3 frigates vs. the IAF = many dead Turkish

  • Pat D

    The Arab Spring is rapidly turning into Radical Islam’s victory, courtesy of Barack Obama,

  • SukieTawdry

    No, the old ME was not particularly nice. And the new one is not likely to be either.

    Sure we’d love to see the new ME “emerge” with an American point of view and a “pattern of development that is broadly compatible with our global vision.” Not gonna happen. We westerners have to stop kidding ourselves that we understand the region or its peoples because we don’t and, with rare exception, never have.

  • Jay

    The new MENA is emerging, but for certain players in Iran, Turkey, and Egypr that means a chance to bring back the old caliphate

    al-q’s phased plan is still relevant after all

  • boqueronman

    Oy vey! More Ivory Tower ruminations from the chattering class about how “we can to steer the region towards a pattern of development that is broadly compatible with our global vision.” And this sentence almost immediately follows this contradictory declaration: “the rise of many dynamic and competing power centers in the region.” So what’s being said here, that there will be regional power centers, but they won’t be powerful enough to prevent Big Power manipulation?

    No, for those interested in the current state of the ME I suggest a visit to any of David Goldman’s (aka Spengler) writings on the subject. Here is a small part of his latest on Egypt:

    “The misnamed “Arab Spring,” really a convulsion of a dying society, began with food shortages. Egypt imports half its caloric consumption, 45% of its people are illiterate, its university graduates are unemployable, its $10 billion a year tourism industry is shuttered for the duration, and its foreign exchange reserves are gradually disappearing. In August, the central bank’s reported reserves fell below what the bank calls the “danger level” of six months’ import coverage.” And he goes on to point out that a good portion of that reserve consists of other ME state loans.

    And what will then transpire in the foreseeable future? “Western economists can concoct all the economic recovery plans in the world, but a country that can’t teach half its people to read, and can’t produce employable university graduates, and can’t feed itself, is going to go down the drain… After sixty years of such abuse [by tyrannical misrule], Egypt simply can’t get there from here.

    Goldman predicts “a humanitarian catastrophe that makes Somalia look like a picnic.” To me it seems the “Arab Spring” shares certain important characteristics with the fall of USSR-style communism. Most importantly the over-educated foreign policy “bien pensant” had no clue as to what was coming. What is coming is likely to be a profound societal and economic shake-out of the region. The U.S. and its experts had little or no influence on the evolution of Russia to its present state. They will have even less influence in a xenophobic ME.

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