After 9/11, Bush and Cheney and company decided the time was nigh to remake the Middle East. Cheney and his friends, mainly, thought they could undo 2,000 years of human history and shape the Middle East into a desert oasis of Western-style democracies that always voted to elect leaders who spoke English and vowed to cut taxes. Things did not work out that way.
- We ordered the Palestinians to hold free and fair elections. They did and the people elected Hamas. Hamas was not our first choice, as they are a well-organized terrorist organization committed to wiping Israel off the map.
- We gave Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf billions of dollars each year to fight Al Qaeda and stop them from spreading from Afghanistan through Waziristan and into Pakistan. Musharraf took our money, but instead of using it to build up the Frontier Army that was fighting Al Qaeda, he used it on missiles and planes he would need in case Pakistan ever went to war with India. India is Pakistan's enemy and our ally. Musharraf, of course, didn't press the issue with Al Qaeda because most Pakistanis chafed at the idea of them having to fight America's war. Despite that, Musharraf STILL lost a recent election (free and fair, like we demanded), but not to the candidate Bush supported because...
- The candidate Bush supported was assassinated a few months ago. Because the Republicans who dabble in nation building like familiar names, Bush and the State Department pushed Musharraf to allow Benazir Bhutto back into the country. Bush also ordered Musharraf to ensure Bhutto's safety. I mentioned she was assassinated, right?
- As for the weapons Musharraf was buying to fight India, well, he may fear India because Bush personally agreed to give them our nuclear weaponry secrets. Even though Congress didn't know he was going to do that. Even though the State Department didn't know he was going to do that. Even though he was telling Iran not to build nuclear weapons. The rumor is - I swear to God - that Bush was tired of his meeting with Indian prime minister and just wanted to go home and agreed to give him the secrets just to end the meeting. Word is the prime minister himself was stunned that Bush so readily agreed.
- Bush asked Turkey not to cross the border into Iraq and fight Kurdish separatists. They did.
- Bush encouraged Israel to go into Lebanon and go to war with Hezbollah. They did...and Hezbollah held their ground, greatly increasing their credibility in the Arab world when Israel slunk home defeated.
- We told Syria to get out of Lebanon. They didn't. After a people's revolution in Lebanon pushed Syria out, we again demanded free and fair elections. Where? Everywhere! Once again, Bush's favored candidate did not win. Where? Anywhere!
- A couple of months ago, Bush met with the Saudi royal family. Now, the Bushes and the House of Saud go way, way back. Back decades. They are the best of friends. Bush personally asked a Saud to lower oil prices and cut Americans a break. The Saud chuckled, patted Bush on the head and said he'll think about it. After briefly thinking about it, he decided not to.
If you want to be an optimist, you could be happy that you have as much influence on the Middle East as George Bush does. Wow! Good for you!
If you want to be a pessimist, you could be upset that the word of the President of the United States is entirely meaningless in an enormous swath of the world. Wow! Bad for us!