The Invisible Superpower

THE INVISIBLE SUPERPOWER….Marc Lynch on the U.S. response to the current turmoil in the Middle East:

American public diplomacy has been virtually invisible on all this, at a time when it is more urgently needed than ever. I can understand this ? you have to have a policy if you want to try to explain or defend it, and right now the Bush administration doesn?t seem to have any policy at all beyond supporting Israel and issuing calls for ?restraint? which Israel promptly and publicly rejects. And what administration official wants to subject him or herself to tough Arab questioning on live TV right now? The idea that Palestinian-Israeli relations could be cordoned off from wider Middle East questions was always misguided. It?s now become actively destructive to all of our interests in the region.

The only reason I?m not calling more loudly for Bush to get involved and take a leadership role in the conflict is the expectation that he would probably do the wrong thing. But at this point, doing nothing is, in fact, doing something. The Bush administration right now looks weak, confused, and vaguely pathetic… which is better than batshit crazy (like the folks who are demanding that America either smile on or even join in a war with Damascus and/or Tehran), but not nearly as good as exercising actual grown-up leadership at a time when the world could really, really use some.

Read the whole thing for some broader musings about how the Arab media, Arab public, and Arab regimes are responding to events in Lebanon and Israel. And then read this too.