Michele Keleman’s report on Morning Edition is a fantastic look at the disastrous consequences of American impotence in Mid Eastern affairs. Extremely interesting is this remark by one David Miller, which is just spot on:
“We are neither admired, respected or feared to the degree that we need to be in order to protect our interests and the reality is — and this is just another demonstration of it — everybody in this region says no to America without cost or consequences,” he says. “Hamid Karzi says no, Maliki on occasion says no, Khameni says no, Netanyahu says no. Mubarak says no repeatedly.” U.S. credibility fell over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, analysts say, and again last year when Israel rejected U.S. calls for a building freeze in the occupied West Bank.
Until and unless the United States cuts off all that wasted foreign aid, to all of those countries (including Israel), it will continue to be mocked and derided and behind the scenes viewed with nothing but contempt for its weakness and spinelessness. Our country has no credibility because it has no willpower.
There are others in Washington making the case for playing the aid card, especially now that the U.S. is making specific calls for reforms. Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, who co-chairs a bipartisan working group on Egypt, says the U.S. used what leverage it had to make sure the army didn’t crack down on protesters. Now, he says, the Obama administration needs to use the aid card to make sure there are real reforms. “At the end of the day, I think it is literally the case that if the Egyptian regime transforms itself into a dictatorship without the name Mubarak at the top of it that they will lose U.S. aid,” Kagan says. “Right now they are not sure they will lose the aid, and I think the more we make that clear to them the better chance we have.” The test of US leverage, Kagan says, is just beginning.
It’s probably another diplomatic test we will fail. Or rather, our leadership will fail. And the US will continue to send money to regimes which despise us.