Friday, December 7, 2007

The Zero-Sum Fiasco

by Dilip Hiro and Tom Engelhardt

".....Having emerged in a self-congratulatory mode as the "sole superpower" after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the U.S. now finds itself competing with a secondary power in the Middle East. This humbling realization seems to have finally penetrated the minds of top policy makers in the Bush administration, causing concern.....

In its regional policies, it does not differentiate between Sunnis and Shi'ites. It has taken the lead in offering aid, material and moral, to Hamas, even though it is a Sunni Palestinian movement.

Iran's stance is in line with popular sentiment among Arabs. Hassan Nasrallah, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – respectively, the heads of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, the Palestinian Hamas movement, and Iran – now top opinion polls as favorite leaders in Arab countries. That is, ordinary Arabs generally ignore sectarian differences, except when it comes to occupied Iraq.

Worried by this fact, Arab rulers have resorted to stressing their sectarian, rather than ideological or policy disagreements, with Iran. The Bush administration has encouraged them to do so. Eager to counter rising Iranian influence by any means, its top officials are now trying to rally Arab rulers as Sunnis against Shi'ite Iran, forgetting that a hasty and unnecessary invasion of Iraq was what has brought about this wretched mess in the first place.

Increasingly, Washington under Bush will be the loser, no matter who prevails in the region – an apt definition of a superpower in decline and of a genuine zero-sum fiasco. "

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