Bush Administration Middle East Policy: What Went Wrong?

Bush Administration Middle East Policy: What Went Wrong?

It has become impossible to credibly argue that the Bush Administration's Middle East policies have advanced the national interests of the United States. After shifting enormous resources toward addressing the problems of the region following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and after cautioning patience through the "birth pangs of democracy," the results have become clear. On every issue that the administration has prioritized -- promoting Arab-Israeli peace, liberating Lebanon from Syrian and Iranian influence, democratizing Egypt, stabilizing Iraq, and containing Iran -- America's foes have grown stronger and its allies have grown weaker. Even more troublingly, virtually all of these problems are worsening as the administration prepares to leave office.

The problem is not merely one of happenstance or bad luck. Instead, it has to do with fundamental errors in analysis and planning, an intolerance of ambiguity, and a deeply flawed assessment of the capacities of American power.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is a case in point. The Bush Administration has consistently hung back, confident that each side's urgency would create enough of an engine to move peace forward. In particular, the administration believed that Abbas's orientation to negotiate gave the U.S. great leverage over the Palestinian side, and that isolating Gaza would demonstrate to Palestinians that even the path taken by a weak Abbas would prove superior to that chosen by a defiant Hamas.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.