OTHER VOICES

A new America overseas

Posted Aug. 29, 2011, at 6:45 p.m.

After much Congressional acrimony, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation to raise the American debt ceiling, while cutting the federal budget deficit. This was but the first scuffle in what is likely to be a protracted battle to bring American deficits under control, and its consequences will resonate far beyond the United States.

As the U.S. will simply be able to afford to do less in the world, the kind of expensive post-Cold War military interventions the country has led in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq will fade from the superpower’s foreign policy repertoire.

Americans are a generous people, but they are also questioning whether the country has overreached.

Indeed, the Americans are growing weary of footing the bill for costly nation-building adventures overseas — especially if their benefit to U.S. security is not readily apparent.

The historian Donald Kagan has noted that the preservation of peace depends upon those states seeking that goal having the preponderant power. As the recent budget battle in Washington underscores, the dawning era of austerity may jeopardize not only American security, but also herald a less activist and less interventionist U.S. foreign policy, and severely constrain the projection of American power in global affairs.

We, in the Middle East, cannot afford to look on with indifference, nor refuse to adapt to a changing strategic climate.

The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 24)

All eyes on Syria

With the crisis in Libya drawing to an end, it is no surprise that eyes are now on Syria. The west Asian country has experienced similar turbulence since mid-March, and there is much speculation that the victory of the Libyan opposition will very likely fuel anti-government protests in Syria, which will in turn escalate tensions in the region and prompt Western powers to take more drastic moves against Syria.

The United States and European countries have intensified sanctions against Syria and called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. They have also tried to seek a resolution condemning the al-Assad regime in the United Nations.

All these moves, which look similar to those taken by the West before they waged military intervention against Libya, have aroused concern that Syria may soon face the same fate as Libya. If this becomes a reality the region will only plunge deeper into the whirlwind of prolonged unrest.

The international community should bear in mind that the situation in Syria is different from that in Libya. An important country in the Middle East, Syria has a significant role to play in the region’s overall stability and security. It is counted as a major player in the regional peace process too.

Compared to Libya, though much smaller in size, Syria has a population more than three times the size. Months of military intervention in Libya led by Western powers have caused serious humanitarian disasters. If a similar scenario is repeated in Syria the consequences will be unimaginable.

China Daily, Beijing (Aug. 24)

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