Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Just A Reminder Of What We're Up Against...

The United States, however, did invade Iraq with the intention of making that state a model for the Middle East, promising that success in Iraq would be followed by efforts to transform the political systems of Iraq's neighbors. This was not a vision any of those regimes was likely to embrace. Nor have they.

When states disintegrate, the competing claimants to power inevitably turn to external sponsors for support. Faced with the prospect of a neighboring state's failure, the governments of adjoining states inevitably develop local clientele in the failing state and back rival aspirants to power. Much as one may regret and deplore such activity, neighbors can be neither safely ignored nor effectively barred from exercising their considerable influence. It has always proved wise, therefore, to find ways to engage them constructively.

Washington's vocal commitment to regional democratization and its concomitant challenge to the legitimacy of neighboring regimes work at cross-purposes to its effort to form, consolidate, and support a government of national unity in Iraq. Iraqi political leaders will work together only if and when they receive convergent signals from their various external sponsors. The administration's drive for democratization in the region, therefore, should be subordinated (at least for the next several years) to its efforts to avert civil war in Iraq. Unless Washington can craft a vision of Iraq and of its neighborhood that all the governments of the region can buy into, it will have no chance of securing those governments' help in holding that country together. The central objective of U.S. diplomacy, therefore, should shift from the transformation of Iraq to its stabilization, with an emphasis on power sharing, sovereignty, and regional cooperation, all concepts that Iraq's neighbors can reasonably be asked to endorse.
Now, couple that with this article, posted here yesterday:
The Arab world is seething at how President George W. Bush, after promoting free elections in Lebanon, made no effort to stop Israel from weakening the new government by destroying much of the country's infrastructure in a bid to cripple Hizbollah.
The problem with imposing a democracy from without is you end up bearing the burden if it fails. And since no one trusts the US is not acting in its own self-interest to the ultimate degree (i.e. permanent occupation of Iraq and ultimately the Middle East), it will be hard to get neighboring countries to get involved in picking up the slack in Iraq.

In Lebanon as in Iraq, the US 'assisted' democracy is on very shaky ground. If we pull out, like a huge game of Jengo, the entire region will topple into Iranian-based theocratic regimes, interspersed with the occasional island of Sunnism.

We really fucked this region, but good. If we could guarantee they'd remmain in isolation, then no big deal. September 11 proved, however, that their vengeance and hatred can carry them far away from the Middle East.

We need to find a solution and fast.

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