As usual, Tony Karon’s analysis of the Middle East is spot-on. The rise of Syria and Iran as regional players is directly related to the clusterfuck that is Iraq:
Unlike the politicians in Washington who seem blithely oblivious in their campaign-trail debates, the Iraqis — like everyone else in the Middle East — are well aware of the limits of American power, and the fact that it is on the wane. The signs are everywhere now, nowhere more so than in the fact that even the regimes most dependent on direct U.S. military support — Iraq and Afghanistan — are simply ignoring the Bush Administration’s injunctions against consorting with Iran.
They know the U.S. has shot its wad, and that it can’t sustain the current troop “surge” beyond next spring. They smell the panic in the discussion in Washington over how and when to pull the troops out, as the underpinnings of American power begin to creak ominously, like that bridge in Minneapolis — in an extraordinary intervention in the Financial Times, recently, U.S. comptroller David Walker compared the U.S. to the Roman Empire on the eve of its collapse, warning that current debt, taxation and expenditure levels combined with infrastructural decay, an aging population and ruinous military commitments abroad have created a “burning platform” for U.S. governance.
The mother of all distractions for Washington? A strike against Iran, seemingly growing in possibility by the day.