For America, An Arab Winter

(Wilson Quarterly) Aaron David Miller - During most of the time it has been engaged with the Arab world, the U.S. has dealt either with acquiescent authoritarians who were its allies (in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia) or with adversarial authoritarians (in Syria and Libya). A great part of this has now come undone. With some exceptions, most notably Saudi Arabia, every major U.S. ally or adversary in the Arab world has faced disruptive change. The growing influence of Arab public opinion on the actions of Arab governments and the absence of strong leaders will make it much tougher for the U.S. to pursue its traditional policies. For America, the Arab Spring may well prove to be more an Arab Winter. The historic changes loosed this year throughout the Arab world represented a legitimate and authentic response by the Arabs to the need to reshape their own societies. Even if the U.S. had desired a stronger role, it would have only made matters worse by intervening. In May, as part of his Arab Spring speech - largely in an effort to demonstrate that he was still committed to a solution and to persuade key European countries not to support the Palestinian UN recognition initiative - Obama laid out a U.S. position on borders based on those in place before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war with mutually agreed land swaps. The speech sparked an intensely negative reaction from the Israelis, and not much of a positive one from the Palestinians, and reflected the reality that the administration really didn't have the strategy, capacity, or opportunity to translate any of its ideas into serious negotiations, let alone an agreement.

2011-07-15 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive