THE BLOG

The Mideast Mess

05/25/2011 11:55 am ET
  • Joseph Nye Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University; Author, 'Is the American Century Over?'

What a mess! Once again the extremists have prevailed, and capitalized on inept American policies. Bush's pressure for elections helped produce Hamas in the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah in the Lebanese government, and his efforts to force regime change pressed Syria closer to Iran. Israel was correct to use force to re-establish its deterrent credibility and to try to degrade the Hezbollah rocket threat, but they have passed the point of diminishing returns. Every picture in Arab media of a child killed by Israeli bombs drives more moderates initially opposed to Hezbollah's rash actions into silence or support. Press accounts say that the Administration will not act for a week. Bush should have given an amber, not a green light. Tom Friedman is correct. What is needed now is diplomacy that separates Syria from Iran, gets Egypt and Jordan involved, and deprives Hezbollah of support. Only then will the prospects of a UN force have any chance for success. America is right to support Israel's right of self defense, but we also have a duty to help contain this multiple policy failure. It is a mistake to think that time is on our side.