16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MARCH 21-27, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com World View Time and time again, the United States gets foreign relations with the Arab world totally wrong. By James J. Zogby FORUM One week before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel, President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser was quoted saying: “The war in Yemen is in its 19th month of truce, for now the Iranian attacks against U.S. forces have stopped, our presence in Iraq is stable—I emphasize for now, because all of that can change. The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades. Now challenges remain…but the amount of time that I have to spend on crisis and conflict in the Middle East today compared to any of my predecessors going back to 9/11 is significantly reduced.” Four-and-a-half months later: Israel is pursuing a devastating war against Palestinians in Gaza; Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and Israel are locked in low-intensity but deadly and ominous cross-border shelling; Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria challenge U.S. forces in the region; and another Iranian ally, the Houthi movement in Yemen, has created havoc by attacking ships in the Red Sea. Needless to say, the White House has shifted from neglecting the Arab world to making it a fulltime concern, one for which they were unprepared. Since the end of the Vietnam War, despite their best efforts, every U.S. president has had the trajectory of their time in office shaped by conflict—and repeated blunders—in the Arab world. In the last half century, the U.S. has sent more weapons, spent more money, committed more troops, lost more lives and expended more political capital in the Arab world than anywhere else, and yet, time and again, it has failed. Beyond the lives, treasure, prestige and trust lost, we never acknowledge these failures, or are simply oblivious to them. Candidates for the presidency never seriously debate U.S. policy in the Middle East. They have never course-corrected our approach toward the region, while the media rarely calls them to account for inadequate policies. We continue to fail and act surprised by our failures. Too many of our policymakers see the Middle East through the lens of Israel exclusively. Time and again, policymakers either proclaim the issue dead or make efforts to sideline it, only to be stunned when Palestine erupts in violence and reasserts its centrality in Arab consciousness. U.S. policymakers have long been confounded by tumultuous “surprises” that should not have been surprises (for example: the 1973 war and oil embargo, Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the birth of Hezbollah, the Intifada, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, 9/11, Iraqi resistance to our invasion, an emboldened Iran and the Arab Spring). We did not understand the dynamics unfolding across the region. Yet these momentous events shaped the presidencies of those who tried to manage them. We have been down this road too many times and are still being led by policymakers who have failed, have not learned, and seem determined to fail again. James J. Zogby is president of the Washingtonbased Arab American Institute. This story first appeared in The Arab Weekly. OPINION We continue to fail and act surprised by our failures. ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES Stop By To Shop And Find Your Vintage Treasure OVER 100 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M canneryrowantiquemall.com Open Daily 11am-6pm ’23 Voted Monterey County's Best Antique Shop ♦ 3 Card Poker ♠ Century 21st No Bust Black Jack ♣ Texas Hold’em ♥ Baccarat FULL BAR! BLACKJACK BONUS POINTS PAYS UP TO $20,000 SMALL TOWN BIG PAYOUTS! 1-800-Gambler • Gega-003846, Gega-Gega-003703, Gega-000889 Gega-000891 Gega-002838 The Marina Club Casino ensures the safety and security of all guests and team members at all times, while providing exceptional service. 204 Carmel Ave. Marina 831-384-0925 casinomonterey.com ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ Just minutes from Downtown Monterey Where Monterey Comes To Play