A WELL-WRITTEN ARTICLE
by Jim Lobe
"President George W. Bush and his peripatetic secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, may believe that they have broken with 60 years of U.S. policy in order to "transform" the Middle East, but to longtime regional observers, their latest initiatives look painfully familiar.
Not only does Washington's current courtship of Sunni-led authoritarian states – most notably, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt – raise new and very troubling questions about its self-proclaimed commitment to democratizing the region, but its new effort to forge a de facto alliance between those states and Israel against a supposedly common external threat – currently Iran – also eerily recalls the Cold-War period in general, and the first year and a half, in particular, of the administration of President Ronald Reagan a quarter century ago.
"The holy grail of U.S. policy in the region has always been to get the Arabs to forget about the Arab-Israeli conflict and to focus instead on some other threat," noted Gary Sick, an expert on Iran and the Gulf states at Columbia University. "If you don't think you can or are not prepared to deal with the Arab-Israel dispute, then trying to convince the Arabs that they should subordinate it to other strategic concerns is really a very attractive thought."
Nonetheless, that appears to be precisely the current administration's thought today, as Rice tours the capitals of "moderate" Arab states to rally support for its demands that Iran unconditionally freeze its nuclear program, which, according to Washington, poses a serious threat not only to Israel, but to the Arab states themselves."