On Iraq, the Middle East and the war against terrorism the Kerry team seems to be bereft of new ideas. Without a willingness to listen and respond to the views of Muslim states and peoples, a Kerry administration would be no more able than a Bush administration to reduce wider Muslim hostility, push for peace between Israel and Palestine, or formulate a new strategy in the war against terrorism.
American nationalism today imperils America's global leadership and its success in the war against terrorism. More than any other factor, it is this nationalism which divides the US from a post-nationalist Europe. And insofar as it has become mixed up with a chauvinist strain of Israeli nationalism, it also plays a disastrous role in US relations with the Muslim world.
Current US strategy in the "war on terrorism" is a kind of zombie. It has been killed, slowly and painfully, by the Iraqi Sunni Arab insurgency of recent months. Its rotting corpse still walks around as if alive but as time goes by more and more bits are going to fall off. The question for uncommitted European governments is whether they should join this spectacle.
Among the variegated arguments made by the Bush administration for war with Iraq was the suggestion that it would somehow lead to an Israeli-Palestinian peace. This was not wholly insincere. US Secretary of State Colin Powell is genuinely committed to the peace process and for a few months after the fall of Baghdad it seemed that President George W. Bush, too, had been won over to this conviction.
Following internal maneuvering and international pressure, Yasser Arafat has agreed to a new government proposed by Prime Minister-designate Mahmud Abbas, paving the way for Washington's ‘road map’ for an independent, democratic Palestinian state. But can Abbas implement reform? How do Palestinians view the issue of reform? And, what is the relationship between reform and Arab-Israeli peace?
If faced with the choice between a genuinely representative new Iraqi government that shows itself to be resistant to Washington's policy commands and an unrepresentative but compliant one, many in Washington will be tempted by the latter. But haven't we already discovered in other Middle East countries the problems with that choice?
The Bush administration's new "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)," announced in December, is wise in some places, in need of small fixes in other places, and dangerously radical in still others.