Time for U.S. to rethink its Mideast policies after ambassador’s tragic death
By Wu Liming
BEIJING: The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya on Tuesday were hair-raising, and the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was tragic.
On the surface, the attacks stemmed from a U.S.-made film that “defames Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.” But their causes run deeper than that, highlighting America’s flawed strategy in the Middle East and the necessity for Washington to rethink its policies toward the region.
Both Libya and Egypt witnessed drastic political upheavals in the past year, in which the United States played a crucial role. However, many Egyptians and Libyans don’t seem grateful to America, and the deadly attacks appear to reveal deep resentment. Why?
First and foremost, the United States has been pursuing hegemony in the Middle East for decades, and people in the region are fed up with the image of “the arrogant American.”
Years ago, the United States launched the “war on terror” and turned Iraq into bloody chaos, causing numerous deaths and casualties, with millions of people displaced.
Despite all its rhetoric, the United States failed to bring prosperity to the region and the people there remain mired in dire situations.
For instance, Iraq is still troubled by explosions, sectarian conflicts, a slow reconstruction process and the resurgence of al-Qaida.
Secondly, the attacks dealt a big blow to America’s decades-old scheme of trying to set up a coalition in the region to bring down the Mideast governments it dislikes, like Iran and Syria.
To that end, America and its allies have been trying to push for regime change in the name of democratization. But the region is still volatile, and the coalition has been weakened instead of getting stronger.
Not long ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Middle East in an bid to patch up cracks that emerged in the region’s relationship with America. But she met with protests. And the latest attacks demonstrated again how unpopular Americans are in the region.
Thirdly, America’s partiality for Israel leads to widespread hatred among Arabs, shaking the foundation of America’s strategy in the region.
Moreover, the political patterns in many Mideast countries have gradually changed following the rise of religious forces, which is bad news for the United States.
Fourthly, America’s inaction in restarting the Mideast peace process has added to local people’s revulsion at America.
The world held high hopes for the peace process when U.S. President Barack Obama took office, but over the past four years the Obama administration made no substantial progress in that regard.
Finally, America proves unable to resolve the bigger issue of culture conflict.
Following America’s deeds in the Middle East over the decades, the cultural gap between America and the Middle East has actually widened.
According to media reports, apart from being angry with the above-mentioned film, the protesters in Benghazi and Cairo “said they were demonstrating against anti-Islamic attitudes in the United States.”
All in all, the attacks serve as a reminder that it is time for Washington to rethink its policies toward the Middle East or it will face a dead end there.