Rice’s Vision of the Middle East

In this morning’s Washington Post Condoleezza Rice, analogizing the Middle East to post-World War II Europe, sets out the Administration’s vision of a free and prosperous Arab world:
“Today America and our friends and allies must commit ourselves to a long-term transformation in another part of the world: the Middle East. A region of 22 countries with a combined population of 300 million, the Middle East has a combined GDP less than that of Spain, population 40 million. It is held back by what leading Arab intellectuals call a political and economic ‘freedom deficit.'”
Rice articulates once again the central role of a free Iraq in the Administration’s vision: “Much as a democratic Germany became a linchpin of a new Europe that is today whole, free and at peace, so a transformed Iraq can become a key element of a very different Middle East in which the ideologies of hate will not flourish.” This is, of course, the bold approach to Iraq that is dubbed conventionally, but for no obvious reason, “neocon.”
In addition to the broad vision for the Middle East, Rice repeats the narrower security justification for the Iraq war: “Let us be clear: America and the coalition went to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein’s regime posed a threat to the security of the United States and to the world. This was a regime that pursued, had used and possessed weapons of mass destruction; had links to terror; twice invaded other nations; defied the international community and 17 U.N. resolutions for 12 years — and gave every indication that it would never disarm and never comply with the just demands of the world.”
So Iraq not only had “weapons programs,” but “possessed weapons of mass destruction.” That, I think, will make the Democrats nervous; I assume Rice’s clear, definitive statement is based on the work by David Kay and his team that has been done, but not yet made public.
We have consistently supported the drastic approach to the Middle East proposed by Paul Wolfowitz and others, and now eloquently articulated by Condoleezza Rice, not because it is sure to succeed but because we think the United States has no alternative. The effort to reform the Middle East may well fail; the analogies to postwar Europe are obviously questionable. (For one thing, both the State Department and the Democratic Party supported the Marshall Plan, and the Europeans, being its beneficiaries, didn’t try to undermine it.) But the security of the United States demands an Arab world that is not an endless breeding ground for terrorism, and this in turn demands no less than the liberation of that region. Whether this necessary task will be pursued beyond the next eighteen months depends, I suppose, on the 2004 elections.

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