Changing Middle East looks depressingly like what it replaces
November 21st, 2012
12:49 PM ET

Changing Middle East looks depressingly like what it replaces

By Danielle Pletka, Special to CNN

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are her own.

This small war between Hamas and Israel will pass. The just announced ceasefire may be sustained. Or Israel may move from aerial bombardment to a ground incursion, which will deter Hamas from relighting the fuse for some time. But not forever, because Hamas exists only to fight with Israel. It has no other purpose. Those who counter that Hamas governs need only look at Gaza to understand that governance is far from Hamas’ aims or abilities. Will this late 2012 battle end differently for the Palestinians? Advance a two state solution? Heal the ills of the Palestinians? Allow Israel to live in peace and security? No.

Another question:  Will the realignment of the Middle East to an order more congenial to Hamas matter? Clearly, Hamas believed that with its Muslim Brotherhood brethren at the helm in Egypt and the new spiritual leader of the region’s Sunni Islamists at the helm in Turkey, this adventure would end differently. Of course, Hamas’ hope was not to destroy the state of Israel. Rather, it was to gain the upper hand in its endless and fruitless battle against Fatah for the Palestinian political mantle, ideally with the wind of the Arab world’s Islamist revolutions at its back. That won’t happen either. Egypt’s Mohamed Morsy and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan are willing to lend rhetorical support and a few visits to Gaza, but they’re never going to do anything substantial for Palestinians because they neither care enough about actual Palestinian people nor wish to queer their pitch with Europe and the United States.

Finally, there’s a depressing familiarity about the new Middle East. It’s not the bombings or the terrorism or the death or the rote repetition of formulae; rather, it’s the reliving of history and the mindless expectation of a different outcome.

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Step back a few years to the rise of the modern Arab state. That takes us a couple of decades from the post-World War II, post-independence era array of Kings and Emirs of Araby. The 1960s saw the rise of young officers movements and leaders like Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Muammar Gadhafi in Libya, and Soviet inspired “socialist” leaders like Syria’s Hafez el Assad.  Their mission was to restore the glory of Islam’s past, to right the calamity of the creation of Israel and to reject the Western orientation that corrupted their royal predecessors. Wars were fought with Israel; wars and territory were lost to Israel. And, slowly but surely, the young officers and their successors became the dictators they had pretended to revile. Finally, there were only a few threads that united most of those leaders – the desire for political and financial power, and a reflexive habit of blaming their nation’s ills on the Jews.

Over the last few years, those leaders have been tossed to the ash heap of history by populations that would no longer tolerate the oppression and fear that dominated their lives. In Tahrir Square, in Damascus, in Tunisia and in Yemen, demonstrators didn’t demand a Palestinian state, nor did they focus on the Jews. They spoke of economic and political freedom, accountability and democracy.

But look at the leaders that have come to the fore. What are they doing? Delivering economic reform? Not yet. Rooting out corruption? No. Delivering the fruits of political freedom to all? Far from it. Rather, they are imposing a new tyranny at home and hoping to distract their people from their failings by looking to Israel. Even Turkey, which is sliding away from the democratic freedoms and secularism that characterized its modern era, has begun to look more like the old Middle East and less like the trailblazer it could have been.

What a shame to see the nations of the region reenact the same play they have performed again, again and again, serving no one – least of all themselves.

soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. rightospeak

    Just as in the Middle East so it is in the US. The freedoms are being lost, the censorship and control of the American media is in full swing. We were able in the past to comment easily . Now most of the comments are tightly controlled. A new system was installed that allows comments only through DISQUS-most censored, and others like facebook. The feedback that the media and people get with this kind of comment manipulation differs little from totalitarian countries. It gives the public a warped picture of reality. Pro war, pro Israel propaganda is being fed to the American people just like in Hoover's time.Herbert Hoover in "Freedom Betrayed" quotes Saturday Evening Post which on 2/1/1941 stated : "America strategist who controlled the war propaganda knew better than to name their objectives in the beginning". Brainwashing then and braiwashing now while the wars continue.Forget Middle East-the U.S. is under Press Terrorism occupation.

    November 23, 2012 at 9:56 am | Reply
  2. Ollie Oxenfree

    quarantine the muzzies

    November 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  3. Plumbline

    John 4:14
    but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

    November 25, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
  4. MarekEyal

    Lonely voice of reason as opposed to prevailing lunatic illusions of majority of political commentators.

    November 27, 2012 at 9:29 am | Reply
  5. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Thanks a ton for this seemingly truthful article.

    But, I am amazed to see this article under FAREED ZAKARIA-GPS, knowing fully well that Mr. Zakaria (my former countryman from India) is a radical Islamist in western clothing, batting for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in these columns.......

    Mr.Fareed Zakaria is doing to the US what his polygamous Islamic scholar father Late Mr.Rafiq Zakaria did to India. I am sorry to be commenting on Late Mr.Zakaria's polygamism, but I had to b'coz had I as a Hindu or the author as a Christian would dare to take more than one wife in India, we would be treated as routine CRIMINALS and would spend have spent our lives not with our wives but in a jail cell!!!

    November 27, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      Sorry about the grammer. Pressed post before I revised my thoughts.

      Anyways, I was just trying to say that FAREED ZAKARIA-GPS has been portraying the Arab Spring as the greatest thing that ever happened NOT just to the ME, but to all of mankind!!!.

      He has been the focal point for winning support for all the radicals out there, by sugarcoating everything they say, for the consumption of gullible Americans.

      I have written extensively in these columns to expose Mr.Zakaria, who is surely no friend of two of the GREATEST NATIONS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH – USA ( Mr.Zakaria's current home) or INDIA (his former homeland)!

      Mr. Zakaria owes his allegiance to just one thing.........the MUSLIM UMMAH, and to that end he will support every Muslim cause anywhere in the world.......irrespective of merits!

      And, please don't be fooled by his Taqiyya....his Jewish connection (his troubled marriage to a Jewish women), or his proclaimed non-religious outlook......none of that matter.

      Like Mr. Zakaria, on the other side of the world in radical Pakistan is Mr. Imran Khan, a Muslim who has been a playboy, a drinker, Convent educated, and ofcourse married to a British Jewish baronnes.......who is now batting for the Taliban and Islamic radicals (even though they detest him for being impure!) and campaigning against US drones.

      So when it comes to their religion nothing matters to these Islamic wolves in Sheep's clothing......they are in fact far more dangerous than their Koranic educated brethren fighting in the ravines of Af-Pak!!!!!

      This something Americans and Indians need to understand really, really well......if they need to stay safe !!!!!!!!!!

      November 27, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  6. Rick McDaniel

    In the face of Islam........nothing can really change. It is a religious dictatorship, and it will not change.

    December 1, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • John the Historian

      We have Albania and Turkey in Nato both muslim countries. The US installed the Shah in 1953 in Iran, a muslim ruler. The US pumped millions of dollars in weapons into Iraq under Reagan from 1980-1988 so Saddam Hussein could fight his war with Iran. Never forget Rumsfeld was personal friends with Saddam and visited him in the 80 as Under Secretary of Defense for Reagan. We are alliedwith Kuwait a muslim country and have military bases there. We have American troops in Egypt protecting the Egyptian-Isreli border. Morocco is one of the first countries to recognize the USA in 1782. Every US president since Roosevelt has meet with the Saudi kings. Bush II invited the Saudi King to Crawford ranch after Sept 11th. never forget 15 of the 19 Sept 11th hijackers were Saudis and in this country with Saudi passports. Muslims now outnumber Jews in the USA. We live in a multipolar world. Get use to it. China has bigger Pacific fleet than the USA. Palkistan has nuclear weapons as does India. The world is very small isn't it.

      December 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  7. John the Historian

    Create a Palestinian State like Bush promised by 2005. Interfaith dialogue, multiculturalism, and intermarriage between Jews and Palestinians. No to wars of choice. No to the Neocons. War is death, destruction, disease, and horror. Imagine a war and nobody decides to go. Want a war volunteer yourself and your children. Don't be a draft dodger like Romney and Cheney.

    December 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
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