Necessary Risks

Necessary Risks

We – the PPI – released a paper by Shadi Hamid on reorienting America’s policy towards the Middle East.  It’s excellent.

Shadi argues that the America has to start building relationships with Middle Eastern publics, not – as we do now – the dictators that rule them.  Democracy promotion is still very valid (and it’s unfortunate that the term has left such a bitter taste after the folly of Iraq) as it provides disaffected mainstream elements of society with a vent for their frustrations.

Here’s an excerpt:

America’s mounting failures in the Middle East are tied not only to ineffective policies but also–and perhaps more importantly–to faulty assumptions about the sources of our difficulties in the region. Anti-American violence and terrorism is fueled by long-standing grievances, both real and perceived. A new Middle East strategy must be premised on a long-term effort to seek out root causes of this anger and, where possible, address them.

In practice, the United States has almost always been in crisis-management mode regarding the Middle East, seeing the region through a short-term strategic lens. Policymakers have focused on treating symptoms without addressing the deeper, structural causes that have produced so many of the region’s ills–whether political violence, sectarianism, or terrorism. Fortunately, progressives are beginning to move in the right direction.

[T]he attitudes of Arab and Muslim publics should weigh heavily as the next administration articulates its security strategy. Mistrust and suspicion of the United States–no matter its origin–fuels long-standing grievances.

America must reassess the core premises of its Middle East policy… and challenge the assumptions that have long been the basis of U.S. policy formulation; reassess American security objectives in the region; and propose a set of practicable policy changes that embody a new mindset.