John Judis has a sensible piece out now, pondering what a new US strategy in the Middle East should prioritize. As one friend commented to me, there seems to be a new current of freedom at The New Republic as it would have seemed inconceivable that such a line as that which follows would have made it past Marty Peretz’s editorial pen.
. . .The choice, in other words, does not simply involve what the United States should do in Egypt, but in the entire region. My own view is that given the choice between promoting Egypt’s revolution and ensuring continuity in its own foreign policy, the Obama administration should change its policies toward the Middle East to accommodate the demand for democracy in Egypt. Not on every issue, nor toward every country, but toward the Netanyahu government, the Palestinians, and the dictators under siege in the Gulf and North Africa.
That would include pressing rather than discouraging a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah (which is a prerequisite for meaningful negotiations over a Palestinian state), using the threat of withdrawing American aid–as George H.W. Bush did in 1991–to bring the Netanyahu government to the negotiating table, and distancing American policy from Arab rulers in the Gulf.
What Judis is getting at is that the US and Israel need to wake up and see the trends afoot in the region and get with the wave, or ahead of it. Cultivating responsible self-determination in the region, particularly with the rising political Islamic groups which view themselves as champions of a new democratic trend in the region, is necessary.
I have been writing for some time that Israel’s security situation with the US, Egypt and Jordan was working sort of like a New Orleans levy — working for the time being, but not getting better with time and that some day a storm would come and knock out those levies. Israeli security needs to be revisioned and constructed in other ways as the current arrangements have eroded and are failing. This is not good for Israel, nor America, nor the Middle East states around it.
— Steve Clemons
h/t to Max Blumenthal for sending my way.