It seems miscalculation is a Middle Eastern curse. This has been the case throughout history.
In the last century we kept the tradition alive. Conflicts, like Iraq-Iran and Gulf wars, were born out of Arab, Iranian and Western miscalculations. This and other ones left millions dead, maimed, poor and homeless.
Our best and brightest went either down with desperation or immigrated. Some of the most successful ethnic groups in America today are Arab-Americans. Arab immigrants achieved similar success in the rest of the world from Australia and Indonesia to Africa and Brazil, but not in the Middle East.
Here we go again, as Ronald Reagan would say, in the new millennium.
Even though the century has just begun, we are already caught up in vicious circles and circus of dire miscalculations.
The party began in 2001 with an attack on America that was as foolish as it was criminal.
As intended, this action provoked a chain of disastrous reactions. The neocons were looking for an excuse to jump-start their plan to rule the Middle East.
The 1996 “Clean Break” scheme called for invasion, regime change and map redrawing. To put the plan to work, a powerful alliance led by the neocons was made with the Christian right, the Zionists and the arms, oil and construction businesses.
Everything was ready, only a good pretext was missing. Enter 9/11. Enter the nonexistent link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. Enter the manufactured scare of nuclear mushrooms over New York and Washington. Enough! Ready. Set. Go.
However, this was a colossal and embarrassing miscalculation. The “cakewalk” turned into a quagmire.
The Iraqi population, instead of throwing rose petals and “hurrahs” at the “liberating armies”, welcomed them with roadside bombs and suicide bombers.
The “Iraq-first, neighbors-later,” became “please, neighbors, Get Me Outta Here!”
Saddam’s regime miscalculated, too, when it underestimated the American threats. True, it didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, but it didn’t do a good job of convincing the world of its innocence. Hezbollah and its backers in Tehran and Damascus miscalculated when they provoked Israel. They expected a reaction, but not on such massive scale.
The Israeli and their allies miscalculated, as well. They thought Hezbollah could be erased; and Iranian and Syrian business in Lebanon could be shutdown with one masterstroke. Instead, their political and military cards were burned. Hezbollah and backers came out singing and dancing.
Today, both Iran and USA are miscalculating their face-off. The Iranians went way beyond what would be tolerated in their intervention in Iraq. The Americans went extreme with their reaction to the Iranian nuclear program. With a blind eye to the decades-old Israeli program that produced hundreds of nuclear heads and a network of advanced delivering systems, America exaggerated the danger of the Iranian program as they did with the Iraqis’.
Experts, including Americans, reached the conclusion that Iran would not be able to make a bomb in ten years. So, why all the fuss, now? And why it was OK when the American ally, the Shah, was starting this very program with Western assistance?
Iran, too, is miscalculating when it thinks that having over 150,000 American soldiers under its thump in Iraq, and an overextended US military will prevent a gung-ho administration from hitting it. What Iran fails to understand is that this US president is badly in need of refocusing his peoples’ attention on a new enemy, new danger, new justification for more wars and war expenditures. And he is badly in need of a legacy — something that has eluded him so far.
Neglecting the Palestinian problem is another US miscalculation. This administration thought they could win both the war on Muslim countries, and the hearts and minds of 1,300 million Muslims without giving them back their Holy Mosque in East Jerusalem.
The result is the lowest-ever approval ratings for US in its history.
Mirroring a similar global trend, the US that was among the world’s most popular nations only six years ago is now bracketed with Israel as the most dangerous country threatening world peace and stability. The so-called Axis of Evil — North Korea, Syria and Iran — fared better.
The Arab leaders miscalculated when they relied on corrupt regimes, police states and Western support for survival.
Instead of winning their constituencies with true democracy, better education, economic development and political reforms, they played for time with fake, reluctant and half-hearted, half-baked reforms.
Yes, they succeeded in riding out Western resolve and pressure; but they lost what’s left of their people’s trust, support, respect and loyalty. Now, that is the “Mother of All Miscalculations!”