Tuesday 6 May 2003

Real American agenda now becoming clear

A superpower like the United States does not invade a pipsqueak power like Iraq — outside the framework of international law and against worldwide opposition — only for its publicly stated reasons, in this case, fighting terrorism, liberating Iraq and triggering a domino effect for the democratization of the Middle East.

The real American agenda is only now becoming clearer.

The conquest of Iraq is enabling a new Pax Americana that goes well beyond the much-discussed control of oil, as central as that is to the enterprise.

America is redrawing the military map of the region with amazing alacrity. It has pulled its bases out of Saudi Arabia and Turkey in favour of less-demanding hosts.

Its relations with Egypt have been placed on the back burner.

It is no accident that those three nations are the region's more populous. And that America's newest partners — Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates — are thinly populated and tightly controlled monarchies.

People are a problem for America in the Arab and Muslim world. They are bristling with anti-Americanism, principally over the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

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