As the mayhem continues in Iraq and international terror seems as potent as ever, condemnation of the Bush administration's policy has mounted. Leon Hadar, a scholar of US foreign policy at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and an especially strong critic of the war on terror, has written in Sandstorm a far-reaching indictment of America's approach to the Middle East going back to the end of the Cold War.
Hadar argues that whereas during the Cold War, US involvement in the region was justified by the need to counterbalance the Soviet Union, since then it has done considerably more harm than good. America, in his view, should pursue "constructive disengagement" from the Middle East, shifting most of the responsibility for containing terror and rogue regimes to Europe and also, eventually, Russia, China and India.
America's relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Hadar argues, relies on the myth of US dependence on their oil. Actually, America gets more of its oil from Latin America and other sources; it is Europe and Northeast Asia that are truly dependent on Middle Eastern oil, and America's real aim in the Gulf is to maintain its geo-strategic leverage over them.
As for what Hadar calls the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is now a "local," "tribal" affair that does not need US diplomatic "micro-management"; instead it should be managed by the parties themselves, the Arab states and Europe.