Wednesday, October 24, 2007

US Vision of the Middle East: Naive or Cynical?

Condoleeza Rice speaks from time to time of the US "vision" for the Middle East. Recently she has described Iranian opposition to that vision.

"Iran is a major obstacle to the U.S. vision of a Middle East in which nations will trade more, invest more, talk more and work more constructively to solve problems"

There is another element to that vision. That vision requires preventing democracy, or at least democratic control of foreign policy, in every nation in Israel's region. I sometimes wonder if Rice really hasn't done the math about why this is necessary for the US vision, which values first Israel's security as a Jewish ethnic state or if she understands and hopes nobody else realizes it.

I'm reminded of a statement by MJ Rosenberg. Rosenberg is a somewhat notable relatively liberal supporter of Israel. But Rosenberg, at least, is completely open about his opposition to democratic governance for the 100 million people of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Personally, I never much cared whether Israel's neighbors were democratic so long as they were willing to live in peace with Israel.

Jordan, for instance, is not a democracy in the western sense but it is precisely the kind of neighbor Israel needs. Egypt is not a democracy but is at peace with Israel. A democratic Egypt probably would not be. So let's lay the democratic crusade aside (which, of course, we do anyway if we don't like the choices made by the voters in these various countries).

This hostility towards democracy is inherent in the position that Israel's security as a Jewish state is of primary or even high importance. In Rosenberg's case he accepts the incompatibility between democracy and security of Israel.

In Rice's case, she leaves open the possibility that she doesn't realize the incompatibility exists. Maybe she is being naive. But more likely she is being deceptive when describing her vision but leaving out of it the 100 million people living under dictatorships acceptable to the US to ensure an ethnic majority for 6 million Jews in Israel.

Maybe the United States should join Iran in opposition to a vision of widespread dictatorships openly supported against their people by the US.

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