Saturday, February 26, 2011

Asking the wrong question

The New York Times debates Why didn't the US foresee the Arab revolts?

Why would this fact be a surprise? Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gaddafi failed to foresee the same revolts despite committing far greater resources to the task.

How do we even know if the premise of the question is correct? I am not on the President's reading list for Top Secret intelligence and neither is the New York Times. If the intelligence services had been predicting the collapse of these miserable dictatorships I would hope that they would keep it to themselves.

All six of the 'experts' asked to comment on the question assume that its premise must be correct and that had the US predicted the revolts they should have somehow acted to prevent them.

That was certainly the old model of US foreign policy: Propping up dictators in the name of 'stability'.

As the past four weeks proved, it didn't work.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ahmedinejad's view

The Washington Post should really stop giving Ahmedinejad's shills space to write about the Middle East.

The Leverett's are a couple who used to do foreign policy for the neo-cons but for mysterious (ormore likely banal) reasons suddenly started spouting the Iranian government line in a series of tendentious opinion pieces.

According to the Leveretts, the Iranian elections were not stolen and Iran is poised to emerge more powerful as a regional player as Egypt defects from US control and thus submits to Iran's sphere of influence.

In European terms, this is like suggesting that Germany would be part of the sphere of influence of Ukraine. Egypt has a larger population than Iran, an economy that is diversified beyond oil and controls the Suez canal. In the highly unlikely event that Sunni Egypt would want to form an alliance with Shi'ia Iran under theocratic control, it is clear that Iran, not Egypt would be the junior partner.

While US influence in the region may have declined as a result of the changes of the past four weeks, the only point of having influence is to protect interests. And the interests of the US and the Western world in general are much better served by the spread of democracy than maintaining the rule of kelptocratic dictators.

As the largest remaining police state in the region, the sudden collapse of similar regimes in Egypt, Tunis and Libya must be a concern to the mullahs of Iran. And the process is far from complete. If Bahrain and Yemen fall, the regime in Saudi Arabia is going to come under further pressure. Should Saudi Arabia fall, Iran's system of government will become a glaring anomaly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shorter Gadhafi

Shorter Gadhafi: Claims in the foreign press that I am murdering opponents of my rule are lies and anyone who believes them is to be murdered. [Talking Points Memo]