Lost in the Middle East

[Washington Post] Editorial - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is making a high-profile effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - in spite of an unfavorable situation in the region - in order to solidify an alliance of "the mainstream" against Iran and in support of U.S. policy in Iraq. The administration has decided to seek $98 million in funding for Palestinian security forces - the same forces it rightly condemned in the past as hopelessly corrupt and compromised by involvement in terrorism. Those forces haven't changed, but since they are nominally loyal to "mainstream" Mahmoud Abbas and serve as a check on the power of the "extremist" Hamas, they are on the right side of Ms. Rice's new divide. So is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a thuggish autocrat who was on the wrong side of Ms. Rice's previous Mideast divide between pro-democracy forces and defenders of the illiberal status quo. The administration's concern about Iran is well founded. Yet the new U.S. policy betrays President Bush's freedom agenda, giving a free pass to dictators who support the new geopolitical cause. Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice have said again and again that such trade-offs during the Cold War helped lay the groundwork for groups such as al-Qaeda - which was founded and is led by Saudis and Egyptians.

2007-01-18 01:00:00

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