Strategy Shift in the Middle East -- Back to the Future

[Washington Post] David Ignatius - The Bush administration is making a subtle but important shift in its strategy for the Middle East -- establishing containment of Iranian power in the region as a top American priority. A simple shorthand for this approach might be "back to the future," for it is strikingly reminiscent of American strategy during the 1980s after the Iranian revolution. The cornerstone is a political-military alliance with the dominant Sunni Arab powers -- especially Saudi Arabia. The hardware will be new arms sales to Israel, Egypt and the Saudis. The software will be a refurbished Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The problem with "back to the future," of course, is that we've been there before. Arms deals won't provide lasting security for Saudi Arabia; supporting authoritarian Sunni regimes won't stem the appeal of Islamic radicalism; and a fractured Iraq will keep the region in a permanent state of tension. But the new approach has the virtue of realism -- preparing for the worst in Iraq rather than hoping for the best.

2007-08-27 01:00:00

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