Sunday Readings

Meeting in Paris prior to next week’s peace talks on Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry and other leaders are stepping up the pressure on opposition groups to come to the table for discussions. The primary stumbling block to their attendance is a divide between opposition groups on what the role of Bashir al-Assad moving forward and whether he will have a place in the transitional government the talks will aim to establish.

Doyle McManus speaks to the by the proxy battles being waged by Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Today, though, Lebanon’s street battles and car bombings are merely a small part of a mushrooming regional proxy war that extends across both Syria and Iraq to the shores of the Persian Gulf. Two big powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have squared off in a competition for dominance in much of the Arab Middle East. Other countries are either choosing sides or nervously trying to protect themselves from the spillover. And the United States finds itself uncomfortably in the middle,” he writes.

Mai Yamani delves deeper into relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and how that relationship impacts the Kingdom’s alliance with the US.

“The Saudi regime is particularly wary of Iran’s decade-long efforts to persuade the small Gulf sheikhdoms to create security and economic arrangements that exclude the US. This is one reason why the Kingdom moved troops into Bahrain when Arab Spring protests by the country’s Shia majority erupted – and why America, having learned its lesson in Iraq, gave its tacit consent,” she writes.

However, she adds, as much as Saudi Arabia would like to retain good relations with the US, “they no longer feel constrained to wait for US approval of their actions or even to refrain from acting against American preferences. Saudi Arabia is experiencing a fear of abandonment by the US, and it is acting accordingly.”

What Has Changed About US Foreign Policy Since The End Of The Cold War?
Karl Eikenberry examines past national security strategies and discovered that their articulation of American interests has been consistent since the early days of the Cold War.

Is War-Weariness A Temporary State?
Max Boot looks at the proposition that war-weariness is temporary and that the pendulum will swing back the other way.

“Clearly, the noninterventionist cycle is far advanced. And, like the interventionist phase that preceded, it has gone too far, setting the stage for a backlash that could augur a new era of more activist foreign policy. This is not a prediction that U.S. foreign policy will change overnight (it will probably take another presidential election to effect major change), but it is increasingly obvious to observers of all political hues that the costs of American nonintervention have been high,” Boot contends.

In fact, Boot argues, the resurgence of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations should serve as a call to return to a more interventionist foreign policy.

“It is time for the cycle to swing back to a more interventionist phase. There is an opening here for a presidential contender smart enough to grasp it. If history is any judge, the swing back to interventionism is coming, and soon. A smart contender would get out ahead of the cycle now by outlining how the United States can pursue a policy of strategically grounded, tactically adept international leadership.”

The Death Of Ariel Sharon
Aaron David Miller, vice president for new initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, reflects on the life of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.







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