Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East

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Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East

By Leon Hadar
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
224 pp. $24.95

During the Cold War, the United States came to view the Middle East as a vital interest to be protected against outside domination and, as must follow, controlled from within. Whatever might be said for that strategic option in its time, it should have been set aside following the winding down of the Cold War; instead, the subtle striving for hegemony, or "empire lite," under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton has been transmogrified by the current Bush administration into preemptive policies for making over the Middle East that would have given Lord Palmerston pause. All quite unnecessary, Hadar argues. As for access to oil, most of the United States' need is met by supplies from elsewhere. Why, moreover, should the United States give Europe and Japan a free ride by paying to make Middle Eastern oil available to all? Within the area, the pull of the many countervailing "kaleidoscopic" forces are dangerous enough, but they do not directly threaten the United States. Nor is it wise for an outside power to be so proactive as to be perceived as responsible for fixing things. A much-reduced U.S. posture in the Middle East would cost less and likely achieve more. Hadar notes that many who might be amenable to ratcheting down U.S. commitments in the Middle East will ask, "But what about Israel?" He has answers for that, too.

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