It’s official. There is no longer any serious “cost” for defying the United States in the global arena. Unable to win wars or deliver diplomatic coups – and struggling to maintain our economic equilibrium – Washington has lost the fundamental tools for global leadership. And no place does this impotence manifest more vividly than the modern Middle East.
Our pointless and protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be the last time we will launch a major battle in the region. That massive show of flexing brawn over brain burst a global perception bubble about our intentions, capabilities and reason.
This credibility was compromised further with our irrational support of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008/9 respectively. And by the double standards employed over Israel’s violations of international law and its illegal nuclear weapons stash – particularly when viewed against the backdrop of our startling rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear program.
But nothing highlights our irrelevance more than two recent developments:
1) The US’s inability today to convene even perfunctory peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, let alone push through a negotiated solution – and this after 19 years of a “US-sponsored” peace process.
2) The US’s inability to achieve a resolution with Iran over its nuclear program. The only breakthrough in this long-winded effort to tame Iran’s nuclear aspirations was struck by Turkey and Brazil last week.
In short, the US seems incapable of resolving even a traffic dispute in the Middle East. It is Qatar that stepped in to broker a deal between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government in 2008, and is knee deep in negotiating a solution to the conflict in Darfur. Syria helped gain the release of prisoners in Iran and Gaza. And now Turkey and Brazil have cajoled Iran into accepting an agreement that the US, France, England, Germany, Russia and China could not.
We have been rendered irrelevant, despite our insistence on involving ourselves with every peep heard in the Mideast. (more…)