It is now clear that America’s moment in the Middle East is coming to an end. It has been a rather long moment — the United States has called most of the shots in the region since the 1960s — but recently it has turned into a classic case of imperial over-stretch. So we will soon find out if a strong American presence really was vital for all of those years to keep the oil flowing, keep the crazies from seizing power, and keep Israel safe.It's tempting to ask what Gwynne Dyer has been drinking, or even to assume we know what he's been drinking and to ask how long before New Year's Eve he got started. But let's not forget that Dyer is a military historian of considerable experience, a veteran of two navies, an observer who tends to take the high ground because of the long view it offers, and a man who likes to keep his powder dry.
All the speculation early this year about American military action against Iran to destroy its alleged nuclear weapons program now sounds preposterous; Iran will be the new great power in the Gulf, and there is nothing that the U.S. can do about it. Syria will do what it wants in Lebanon, confident that neither the United States nor Israel will intervene to stop it. The U.S. Navy will still hang around the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf and Israel will still get lots of American money and weapons, but six months after President Bush leaves office in early 2009 there will probably be no American boots on the ground between Morocco and Oman.
Gwynne Dyer won't panic until and unless panic is absolutely necessary. And he could very well be right this time. But somehow I doubt it.
What do you think?