Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

A historic Arab pivot in the Mideast?

I wonder if something fundamental is going on in the Middle East. That is, Iran is getting more powerful, and that scares the Arab states. So they seem to be turning away from worrying about Israel and focusing more on Iran as it moves toward becoming a nuclear power. The Bush administration actually helped strengthen ...

Sérgio Savaman Savarese/flickr
Sérgio Savaman Savarese/flickr
Sérgio Savaman Savarese/flickr

I wonder if something fundamental is going on in the Middle East. That is, Iran is getting more powerful, and that scares the Arab states. So they seem to be turning away from worrying about Israel and focusing more on Iran as it moves toward becoming a nuclear power. The Bush administration actually helped strengthen Iran a lot by knocking down Iraq as the great bulwark against the expansion of Persian power westward. Also, by occupying Iraq, it effectively gave Iran tens of thousands of potential hostages, lessening Western leverage and so the West's ability to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Bottom line: Will AQ Khan and the Bush administration together inadvertently have brought Arab-Israeli peace to the Middle East?

I wonder if something fundamental is going on in the Middle East. That is, Iran is getting more powerful, and that scares the Arab states. So they seem to be turning away from worrying about Israel and focusing more on Iran as it moves toward becoming a nuclear power. The Bush administration actually helped strengthen Iran a lot by knocking down Iraq as the great bulwark against the expansion of Persian power westward. Also, by occupying Iraq, it effectively gave Iran tens of thousands of potential hostages, lessening Western leverage and so the West’s ability to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Bottom line: Will AQ Khan and the Bush administration together inadvertently have brought Arab-Israeli peace to the Middle East?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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