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Monday, October 20, 2008

The 'war on terror' has proven to be a mixed bag

This is a great piece from The Daily Star, a pan-Middle East English language newspaper edited in Beirut, outlining the "mixed bag" called the "war on terror."

Seven years on, America's war on terror is a mixed bag. The situation reflects neither the substantial fear of further assaults that existed immediately after 9/11 nor the misplaced optimism that suggested the United States could radically transform the broader Middle East, as Ronald Reagan had brought about the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Patterned on the Western diplomacy that ended communism, President George W. Bush's Middle East democracy initiative began in late 2003 when the White House mistakenly believed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were largely won. The impetus for that effort came chiefly from the White House, as former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith explains in his book "War and Decision." The president was drawn to the idea, and Condoleezza Rice saw the Arabs as an oppressed people whose circumstances resembled those of blacks in the segregated south, her biographer Elizabeth Bumiller relates...

Yet the Middle East is neither the Soviet bloc nor the American south, and the US call for democratic change really only resonated in one Arab country - Lebanon, the most Westernized. And even this one success was significantly set back when Washington failed to support the March 14 coalition against Syrian and Iranian subversion. After the democracy initiative helped produce a Hamas victory in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, it was set aside in large part.

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