US Politics

Speaking of liberal critics of the administration

Kupchan and Takeyh have a scathing op-ed in yesterdays IHT. They hold no punches:

Instead, Washington’s ideological hubris and practical incompetence have succeeded only in setting the region ablaze, awakening extremist and militant voices.

The toppling of Saddam Hussein was intended to send shock waves across the Arab world, intimidating the region’s brittle tyrannies while encouraging the spontaneous civic movements that have brought democracy to much of post-Communist Europe. In Iraq itself, democrats were to replace a brutal autocrat, providing a model for the region.

Precisely the opposite has happened. The war has not only engulfed Iraq in violence and made the country a magnet for jihadists, but it has also awakened sectarian tensions that are spreading beyond Iraq’s borders. From Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Shiites and Sunnis are cautiously eyeing each other, heading for a mounting rivalry that has already helped plunge Lebanon into chaos.

The Bush administration may well be seeking the right end in the Middle East – the pacification of the region through economic and political liberalization.

But we already have ample proof that it has chosen the wrong means. Its errant attempt to impose democracy through force has backfired, only stirring up a hornet’s nest and risking a region-wide crisis.

Iraq lies in ruins, Islamist forces are strengthening, and the Palestine-Israel conflict threatens to become a full-scale war. Even more ominously, the Middle East is being polarized along sectarian lines, empowering an Iran with nuclear ambitions. The mistakes of the Bush administration are coming home to roost.

TGA echos the argument, with what he calls new ‘messy multipolarity’. Gone are the days of hyperpower and unipolarity, he argues, and the new multipolar world may not be what many wished for.

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