During his second term in office, President Clinton is finding it difficult to maintain the foundations of the cost-free Pax Americana in the Middle East. Keeping alive the Arab-Israeli peace process necessitates more than just sending diplomatic "fire brigades" to defuse crises and choreographing ceremonies at the White House. A more aggressive Iraq and activist Iran are successfully challenging the U.S. "dual containment" policy, and France and Russia are "meddling" in the Middle East. As a result, the Clinton administration is being forced to devote more time and resources to dealing with the region and to reevaluate its approach, including its failure to stand up to the Netanyahu government.
Leon T. Hadar is a Washington-based journalist who covers international politics and economics for several American and foreign publications.