If there is a world war, you can't blame Clinton. Note, however, the revealing "consultation" with Israel, as if Israel wags the Dog. Richard Holbrook prints something that conservatives won't admit.
But the United States must also understand, and deal with, the wider consequences of its own actions and public statements, which have caused an unprecedented decline in America's position in much of the world and are provoking dangerous new anti-American coalitions and encouraging a new generation of terrorists. American disengagement from active Middle East diplomacy since 2001 has led to greater violence and a decline in U.S. influence. Others have been eager to fill the vacuum. (Note the sudden emergence of France as a key player in the current burst of diplomacy.)
American policy has had the unintended, but entirely predictable, effect of pushing our enemies closer together. Throughout the region, Sunnis and Shiites have put aside their hatred of each other just long enough to join in shaking their fists -- or doing worse -- at the United States and Israel. Meanwhile, in Baghdad, our troops are coming under attack by both sides -- Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. If this continues, the U.S. presence in Baghdad has no future.
President Bush owes it to the nation, and especially the troops who risk their lives every day, to reexamine his policies. For starters, he should redeploy some U.S. troops into the safer northern areas of Iraq to serve as a buffer between the increasingly agitated Turks and the restive, independence-minded Kurds. Given the new situation, such a redeployment to Kurdish areas and a phased drawdown elsewhere -- with no final decision yet as to a full withdrawal from Iraq -- is fully justified. At the same time, we should send more troops to Afghanistan, where the situation has deteriorated even as the Pentagon is reducing U.S. troop levels -- which is read in the region as a sign of declining U.S. interest in Afghanistan.