The New New Middle East

Richard Haass’s sobering article in Foreign Affairs opens thus:

Just over two centuries since Napoleon’s arrival in Egypt heralded the advent of the modern Middle East — some 80 years after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, 50 years after the end of colonialism, and less than 20 years after the end of the Cold War — the American era in the Middle East, the fourth in the region’s modern history, has ended. Visions of a new, Europe-like region — peaceful, prosperous, democratic — will not be realized. Much more likely is the emergence of a new Middle East that will cause great harm to itself, the United States, and the world…

Haass is the President of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was chief of the Middle-East desk of the National Security Council for George Bush Snr, and director of policy planning in the state department during Dubya’s first term. Sidney Blumenthal (not the most reliable of sources IMHO) thinks that his views reflect those of James Baker, the man currently leading a survey of the policy options available in Iraq. The Foreign Affairs article is long and detailed. Haass produced a more accessible summary of it for the Financial Times. Thankfully, it remains outside that organ’s odious paywall.