People demonstrate in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The protests currently gripping Egypt caught everyone, including President Barack Obama, off guard. While it's been good to see the Obama administration coming out more strongly behind the protesters' democratic demands, warning longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak away from a violent crackdown, and having no less than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an orderly “transition to democracy” (a welcome sign the administration is thinking seriously about a post-Mubarak Egypt) -- it is imperative the administration provide a more robust and strategic response to these events, given what a new Egypt could portend for the entire region.
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.