Power Ploy

As Israel and Lebanon spiral into ever-bloodier war, all eyes are on Tel Aviv, Washington, Tehran, and Damascus. But as crucial as those capitals are to the rapidly evolving politics of the region, it would do Americans well to widen their view. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan -- what Matthew Yglesias dubbed the "axis of pro-American dictators" -- have been executing one of the more stunning gambits in recent Middle Eastern history: publicly aligning themselves against Hezbollah and Iran (and implicitly with Israel and the United States), even in the face of clear public opposition.

Is this good news for Americans long desperate for Arab states to show their hands and support American goals? Not necessarily.

The surprise is not so much in the positions of these states as in the public way in which they are expressing them. In the week of bloody Israeli military actions following Hezbollah's brazen attack on an Israeli convoy and abduction of two soldiers, these states loudly denounced not Israel but Hezbollah and Iran. Saudi officials attacked Hezbollah's  "adventurism,"

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