Middle East Notes and Comment: Balancing Act
April 15, 2004
There is a strange duality in U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Out in the open is traditional diplomacy, and the mood there is often tense. U.S. diplomats push reform, seek support for operations in Iraq, and battle proliferation. Middle Eastern diplomats urge greater engagement on the Arab-Israeli conflict, plead for a course correction in Iraq, complain about favoritism toward their rivals, and warn that U.S. policy is pushing them to the precipice with their public opinion. While there have been tense times in U.S.-Arab diplomacy in the past, it is hard to recall a time in which the governments and publics on the U.S. and Arab sides have so openly and so deeply questioned the true intentions of the other.
Away from the spotlight, however, a different dynamic is at work.