Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is America Becoming a Spent Force?

In global terms, the United States has always been a mix of reality and perception. What other nation could fuel its economy for decades on debt and deficits underwritten by foreign investors? What other nation would dare field something as globally obnoxious as the "Bush Doctrine"?

America's success has always been built on the goodwill of others and their faith and reliance on Washington. To keep that going America has had to preserve its credibility. But, thanks to George w. Bush and his influential Dick, America's credibility has taken a pummeling as the balance shifts away from perception and steadily toward reality.

The upcoming Middle East voyage of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates is expected to show just how frail has become America's coercive grip. The duo will attempt to to persuade Iraq’s neighbors to do more to help stabilize the country, to counter Iran’s growing ambitions and to try to get real movement on peace between Israel and the Palestinians. According to the McClatchey Newspapers service, they face an uphill battle:

America's credibility in the region has plummeted. The U.S. has failed to stabilize Iraq, destroy al Qaida, pacify Lebanon, isolate Syria or bolster moderate Palestinians. Instead, its policies have fueled Sunni Muslim extremism and emboldened Shiite Iran, which America's moderate Arab allies consider the two greatest threats to their rule.

So far, its support for Israel's ill-fated war in Lebanon and its efforts to undermine popular radical groups such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon have borne little fruit. Along with its support for autocrats such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, such actions have undercut American claims that it's championing Muslim democracy.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the Bush administration’s time in office. Leaders of friendly Arab states have lost confidence in President Bush’s ability to deliver on his promises and are wary of sticking their necks out too far to cooperate, according to diplomats and some U.S. officials.

Our credibility is in tatters. They are not going to commit because they don’t trust us. That doesn’t mean they are not concerned about Iran. It just means they just don’t know what we are going to do,” said one senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other U.S. allies in the region want the United States to reach out to Hamas, which now controls Gaza. But Rice has repeatedly ruled out dealing with the group, which is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.
"The strategy is based on the assumption that you could isolate, weaken ... Hamas," while strengthening Abbas and his Fatah faction, said Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert at the University of Maryland. "It cannot succeed. ... Everybody agrees that you can't simply isolate Hamas."

Can America recover its former prestige and clout abroad? That will be a question answered by the next administration and how quickly and successfully it can extract the United States from Iraq. With another year and a half left of the hopelessly inept Bush/Cheney administration, time is not on America's side. If Bush's successor keeps trying to force feed America's ideology to the world, the American century may be over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There does seem to be an historical correlation between civilisations achieving the greatest reach of their imperial power and their simultaneous political, intellectual and economic implosion.
I suppose one has to wonder if America has reached that point.