After the Guns of August

The Middle East is a place where the dust hardly ever settles. When it occasionally does, even for a short interval – as UN Resolution 1701 for cessation of hostilities in Lebanon seems to be holding – it is time to take stock of events in the hopes that a responsible debate may influence those in power.

Let’s start with the United States. President George W. Bush has been short on neither initiatives nor catchy slogans and acronyms. Recent years are littered with them: “Global War on Terror” (GWOT), “Road Map,” “Middle East Partnership Initiative “ (MEPI), “Broader Middle East and North Africa” (BMENA) – originally “Greater Middle East Initiative (GMEI) – Democracy Assisted Dialogue (DAD), and so on. His latest reverie, envisioned in the thick of the recent fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, was the New Middle East (NME), with US clients Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia serving as the pillars of regional order.

But like all his previous initiatives since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington almost five years ago now, the NME ran into trouble from the outset. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced its birth while rejecting an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. Her poor timing made the initiative appear heartless, as thousands of civilians were being uprooted, killed, or maimed by Israel’s efficient but ruthless artillery and air force.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.