American Proscenium

Another Middle East Fantasy

There is an element of cognitive dissonance in the way that many members of the reality-based community in Washington tend to approach U.S. policy in the Middle East.  Many of my colleagues in Washington have urged policymakers to adopt a sense of realism about the American ability to achieve reconciliation between the ethnic and religious groups in Mesopotamia: Hey, be serious!  These guys have been feuding since the British created Iraq after the Great War, and we Americans need to project some sense of humility when dealing with this complex reality.  Let’s stop deluding ourselves that brilliant American diplomacy is going to bring Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds around the campfire on the banks of the Euphrates to start singing “Kumbayallah.”

But these same Realpolitik-oriented experts transform into born-again idealists when they insist that Washington could and should help resolve the conflict between Arabs and Jews.  If the U.S. President will only get all of them to Camp David and build a cozy fire, they will come and make peace.  Never mind that, just as in Iraq, these two peoples in Israel/Palestine have been fighting uninterrupted since the British invaded the area in World War I.  The same analysts who express skepticism, if not cynicism, about the plan of the current occupant of the White House to turn Iraq into a model of political and economic freedom in the Middle East are...

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