Thursday, January 04, 2007

Scowcroft puts the fox among the chickens

David Seaton's News Links
If you peel off all the national security rhetoric from Brent Scowcroft's Op-Ed in today's New York Times, the message is: America's support of Israel is endangering America's hegemony in the Middle East, which in turn endangers America's control of the world's energy supplies. To save what is left of America's power and prestige, a face saving solution is needed for Iraq. No solution can be found for Iraq without the cooperation of its neighbors. Because of America's support of Israel the population of those countries would not tolerate cooperation with the USA and that support would not be forthcoming. Therefore the Palestinians must be satisfied in order to extract the USA from Iraq. Very neat. Really what General Scowcroft's analysis shows is how desperate the situation and with it America's position in the world have become. If the United States had imposed a Pax Americana on Israel and Palestine at the zenith of American power at the end the First Gulf War, this would have been seen as America's acting from strength: power imposing justice. Very Roman. At this point the message that is being sent is that the armed resistance of irregular Arab fighter is forcing the United States to abandon Israel. Certainly this will encourage others to resist American power everywhere in the world. It also means importing the same tribal politics that poison the Middle East directly into the heart of America's political discourse. Can you imagine AIPAC's reaction to Scowcroft's proposals? Jimmy Carter with Mearsheimer and Walt are a Hadassah kaffee klatch compared to Brent Scowcroft. The Israeli, defense and energy lobbies will be at each others throats and we may see the rise in "deep America" of a Borat-like isolationist populism tinged with antisemitism. However unfortunate it may be though, General Scowcroft's analysis is the correct one: this is the only way out. It is also an epitaph for America's empire and the beginning of a "Baghdad-like" political climate in Washington. DS
Getting the Middle East Back on Our Side - Brent Scowcroft - New York Times
Abstract: An American withdrawal before Iraq can, in the words of the president, “govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself” would be a strategic defeat for American interests, with potentially catastrophic consequences both in the region and beyond. Our opponents would be hugely emboldened, our friends deeply demoralized. Iran, heady with the withdrawal of its principal adversary, would expand its influence through Hezbollah and Hamas more deeply into Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. Our Arab friends would rightly feel we had abandoned them to face alone a radicalism that has been greatly inflamed by American actions in the region and which could pose a serious threat to their own governments. The effects would not be confined to Iraq and the Middle East. Energy resources and transit choke points vital to the global economy would be subjected to greatly increased risk. Terrorists and extremists elsewhere would be emboldened. And the perception, worldwide, would be that the American colossus had stumbled, was losing its resolve and could no longer be considered a reliable ally or friend — or the guarantor of peace and stability in this critical region. To avoid these dire consequences, we need to secure the support of the countries of the region themselves. It is greatly in their self-interest to give that support, just as they did in the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict. Unfortunately, in recent years they have come to see it as dangerous to identify with the United States, and so they have largely stood on the sidelines. A vigorously renewed effort to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict could fundamentally change both the dynamics in the region and the strategic calculus of key leaders. Real progress would push Iran into a more defensive posture. Hezbollah and Hamas would lose their rallying principle. American allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the gulf states would be liberated to assist in stabilizing Iraq. And Iraq would finally be seen by all as a key country that had to be set right in the pursuit of regional security. Arab leaders are now keen to resolve the 50-year-old dispute. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel may be as well. His nation’s long-term security can only be assured by resolving this issue once and for all. However, only the American president can bring them to the same table.(...) What is at stake is not only Iraq and the stability of the Middle East, but the global perception of the reliability of the United States as a partner in a deeply troubled world. We cannot afford to fail that test. READ IT ALL

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