Actually, this article goes against much of what I have been saying but I think that it does make some good points. It of course is from the view of the US State Dept which has tended to view things a bit differently from the Pentagon. I personally do not agree with all of the article’s points, but I find it well written… and conducive to a greater understanding of US foreign policy in the region.
Summary: The Bush administration’s tone-deaf approach to the Middle East reflects a dangerous misreading of the nature and sources of Arab public opinion . Independent, transnational media outlets have transformed the region, and the administration needs to engage the new Arab public sphere that has emerged.
Marc Lynch is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Williams College and the author of State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan’s Identity.
RIGHT GOAL, WRONG APPROACH
For the hawks in the Bush administration, one of the keys to understanding the Middle East is Osama bin Laden’s observation that people flock to the “strong horse.” Bush officials think U.S. problems in the region stem in part from “weak” responses offered by previous administrations to terrorist attacks in the 1980s and 1990s, and they came into office determined to reestablish respect for U.S. power abroad. After nearly two years of aggressive military actions, however, the United States’ regional standing has never been lower. As the recent Pew Global Attitudes survey put it, "the bottom has fallen out of Arab and Muslim support for the United States.
Because the administration is right about the political, social, and economic stagnation afflicting much of the Arab world, the way out of the dilemma should not be to return to the traditional “realist” course of pursuing U.S. security interests through strategic alliances with local authoritarian regimes. Nor would a change in U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians be a panacea, as the lukewarm regional reaction to the Bush team’s promotion of its “road map” for Middle East peace demonstrates (although a more evenhanded approach to the road map’s implementation would give the project greater credibility). Instead, the administration should continue its focus on fighting a war of ideas but change its strategy.