Hillary Clinton makes a statement on the WikiLeaks document release. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Some time between Saturday evening and Monday morning, it suddenly became important to U.S. hawks that we take seriously what Arab leaders have been saying about instability in the Middle East.
I refer, of course, to the comments from Arab leaders, released as part of the WikiLeaks cable dump, urging the United States to more aggressively curb Iranian power and influence in the region.
Unsurprisingly, these cables have bolstered neoconservative calls for a U.S. military strike on Iran. Leaving aside the irony that neoconservatives are citing as justification for another war the concerns of the same Arab authoritarians they wanted overthrown in 2003, it's quite interesting to note when and on what subjects Arab leaders are to be believed.
To say that Sasha Polakow-Suransky's new book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa comes at a particularly inconvenient time for the Netanyahu government would be an understatement. Israel is resisting calls for an independent investigation of the May 31 flotilla attack -- in which Israeli naval commandos killed nine activists aboard a Turkish vessel attempting to break the Gaza blockade -- while it continues to deal with the fallout from a previous United Nations investigation of its conduct during the 2009 Gaza War.
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Iran's most senior dissident cleric. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
The "war on terror" was pretty great for Iran's hardliners. The Bush administration's 2002 inclusion of Iran in the "Axis of Evil" was a major blow to Iranian moderates, discrediting their calls for U.S.-Iran rapprochement and supporting the claims of Iran's hard-liners that engagement with America was pointless. The invasion of Iraq removed Iran's greatest enemy, Saddam Hussein, against whom Iran had fought a staggeringly destructive eight-year war. Iraq's postwar government included a significant number of Iran's former clients -- including eventual Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq -- in top leadership positions.
Mike Huckabee visits the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
On Monday, a radical cleric issued a statement rejecting a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine, suggesting that one of the two parties involved in the conflict should be made to find a homeland "elsewhere." Strangely, conservatives, who can usually be counted on to condemn such statements, have thus far been silent about this denial of the right of two peoples to two states in the Holy Land.
Asked about the growing insurgency in Iraq back in July 2003, then-President George W. Bush responded with a remark that will very likely appear in his obituary: "Bring 'em on." For Bush, it was merely a regrettable quip. For Iraqis, there were very real consequences. Thousands of fighters, many of them radicalized by the Iraq invasion and occupation itself, traveled from countries in the region to "bring it on" in Iraq's cities and neighborhoods, markets and mosques. In addition to the costs in lives to Iraqis and American troops, the conflict enabled al-Qaeda planners to develop and refine a set of practices against the most skilled military in the world -- Iraq became a kind of terrorist boot camp.