Tuesday, July 31, 2007
By Jim Lobe
"..... "This effort will bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. "Further modernizing the Egyptian and Saudi Arabia armed forces and increasing interoperability will bolster our partners' resolve in confronting the threat of radicalism and cement their respective roles as regional leaders in the quest for Middle East peace and in ensuring Lebanon's freedom and independence," she said.
......."For 60 years, my country - the United States - pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East," Rice declared in June 2005 at the American University in Cairo, in a widely noted speech that encouraged democracy activists across the region. "And we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people."
But since the election victory of Hamas in parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories seven months later, and particularly since last year's Israel-Hezbollah war, which the US administration saw as evidence of Iran's expanding power, Washington has all but abandoned its democracy-promotion rhetoric - at least insofar as it applied to its regional allies - in essence returning to its 60-year-old preference for stability over democracy.
That it should now return to using large arms transfers as major means of ensuring stability highlights the degree to which the administration has abandoned its pro-democracy stance, according to critics.
"These exorbitant arms sales should be read as a last-ditch effort by the Bush administration to keep matters stable for the tyrannies of the region and to reward those who stood with him in his unending wars," said As'ad Abukhalil, an expert on Saudi Arabia based at California State University at Stanislaus.
What the administration wants from its Sunni allies, in exchange for these deals, according to Chris Toensing, editor of the Middle East Report, "is to build an anti-Iranian alliance [resembling] the early Reagan administration's attempt to find an anti-Soviet 'strategic consensus' among US allied Arab states and Israel......
Indeed, that Washington is now trying to forge a new strategic alliance against Iran in the face of Tehran's emergence as a major regional threat to US interests - largely because of the Bush administration's own miscalculations in Iraq - struck analyst Gary Sick as a "marvelous example of political jiu jitsu"......"