Michael Young has a must-read article in today's Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star. Young tackles the question of American decline in the
The article is illuminating as a succinct but comprehensive summary of all that is wrong — and misunderstood — about present U.S. policies in the region: from the marginal relevance of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the limited role that Gulf States have in countenancing Iran; from past, present, and possibly future policy blunders in Iraq to the Afghan challenge; and where Obama may be getting it all wrong. All this is known — though Young argues it well. A less discussed point deserving of more scrutiny is that the vacuum created by a
The notion sounds absurd.
Just a reminder of what this means in practical terms: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has just signed agreements to build nuclear reactors with both
Those resentful of American power — including the liberal academic environment that shaped President Obama's worldview during his formative years — should take notice of what a retreat of American power means. Not a kinder, gentler world, where the oppressed of the earth, finally free from imperialist chains, are able to realize their full potential. It means that authoritarian regimes assert themselves. The oppressed will remain so — more so. As for all those considerations that tame Western powers' pursuit of their national interests (ethical concerns, respect for local cultures, protection of the environment, rule of law, and the like), forget about it. Power will be raw, at its most ruthless, heads will roll, and blood will flow, while the regional order is reshaped by the new powers that be.
The Middle East will be perhaps the place where the end of the American century will have its earliest and worst impact —
All in all, quite a set of accomplishments by realists, engagement seekers, and those embarrassed by America's power and image in the world.
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