Courtesy Reuters

REMOVE THE WEDGE?

When toppling Saddam Hussein rose to the top of the Bush administration's foreign policy agenda, a chorus of voices protested that Washington had misdiagnosed the root cause of its Middle Eastern dilemmas. "It's Palestine, stupid!" was the refrain heard not only from European and Arab capitals, but from some quarters in the United States as well. These voices argued that attacking Iraq while the Israelis were reoccupying Palestinian lands would substantiate the claim, already widespread in the Middle East, that the United States had declared war against all Arabs and Muslims. The ensuing backlash would undermine the American position in the region and wreak havoc on American interests. What Washington really needed to do was postpone or abandon a showdown with Saddam and focus instead on achieving a breakthrough in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

Unqualified U.S. support for Israel, the critics reason, drives a wedge between Washington

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  • Michael Scott Doran is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Pan-Arabism Before Nasser: Egyptian Power Politics and the Palestine Question.
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