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April 4, 2011

Obama's Middle East Policy Lies in Tatters

Topics: Political News and commentaries

Over at NRO today, John Hannah frames Barack Obama's Middle East policy in its proper perspective - no matter how some might wish to sugar coat it, inside the whirlwind of the Middle East's current turmoil, the bottom line is that the Obama administration's original strategy for the region has crashed and burned:

[...] Recall its key elements. Extending a hand to Iran's mullahs so as to demonstrate America's benign intentions and charm Khomeini's heirs into abandoning their nuclear ambitions. "Engaging" Syria's tyranny in hopes of luring it away from a decades-long embrace of Iran, terrorism, and anti-Americanism. Indulging the canard that the Palestinian conflict lies at the root of all that ails the Middle East; that Israeli settlements pose the most pressing obstacle to peace; and that demonstrating American even-handedness by muscling our Israeli ally would win us goodwill across the Arab/Muslim world. Refuting the "freedom agenda" by slashing democratization programs and letting it be known that a hard-nosed realism had returned to U.S. foreign policy that would concern itself little with the way Middle Eastern regimes treat, or mistreat, their own peoples. And, of course, putting in America's rearview mirror as quickly as possible an Iraq project that had been midwifed by an allegedly illegal and immoral war.

All of it now lies largely in tatters ...

[...] An instinct for reassuring hardened enemies, disregarding longtime friends, and distrusting the exercise of American power. These were, unfortunately, the dominant notes that a troubled region heard emanating from Obama's uncertain trumpet for much of the last two years. "Where is U.S. leadership?" "What is U.S. policy?" "Who's in charge?" The most fundamental questions about American purpose, which anxious Middle Eastern leaders struggled in vain to divine answers to from visiting U.S. friends. The unhappy results? A pervasive -- and corrosive -- sense of waning American power. Adversaries emboldened to continue pressing every challenge. Disheartened friends resorting both at home and abroad to short-sighted measures of self-help and self-preservation. And a vital region of the world increasingly brought near the boiling point, poised between revolution, chaos, and civil war; teetering between the malignant ambitions of an aspiring Persian hegemon and the withering resolve of a traditional patron grown uncertain in the rightness of its cause and weary of shouldering the burdens of leadership.

Read the entire piece here.

Hannan goes on to discuss the possibility of an Obama Middle East policy 2.0 and what changes he might make, noting that the administration has few other options available to it ... up to now it's been mugged by reality. However, the very idea that the administration would actually learn from its past mistakes and depart from its ideologically-driven foreign policy agenda, portrays a confidence in the existence of an attribute being exhibited by this administration that has not been seen during its first two years, and is unlikely to be seen in however long it's in power.

Posted by Richard at April 4, 2011 12:21 PM



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