Last Chance: Inside Condoleezza Rice's Ploy to Defuse a Nuclear Middle East

[Atlantic Monthly, June 2007] David Samuels - The key to Rice's new Middle Eastern strategy, which some administration officials hope will end in a "grand bargain" that will stabilize Iraq, keep the Syrians out of Lebanon, and force Iran to give up its ambitions to build a nuclear bomb, lies in a renewed drive to create a Palestinian state. This is the price that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are demanding if they are to support the administration's stance on Iraq and Iran. For this diplomatic gambit to succeed, Rice will have to make swift progress toward solving a conflict where the prospects for peace look dimmer than they have at any point in the last twenty years. The United States could choose to do business with the Palestinian unity government, pleasing the Saudis and gaining Arab support for future diplomatic and military moves in Iran and Iraq, at the cost of legitimizing terrorism. Or the United States could refuse to deal with Hamas, angering the Saudis and risking the collapse of its strategy. The prospect of a grand bargain, one that will rejigger a complicated region of the world to America's satisfaction, seems like yet another illusion, whose price is likely to be high.

2007-05-22 01:00:00

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