Anatomy of a Farce

U.S. diplomacy in the Persian Gulf region has created a no-win proposition whose dangers far transcend the local security environment

Issue: Summer 1998

America sees farther because America stands taller. . . . We are the indispensable nation.
--Madeleine Albright, Feb. 18, 1998

How is it that the indispensable nation had to rely twice in the space of four months on the likes of Yevgeny Primakov and Kofi Annan to save itself from serious embarrassment at the hands of the error-prone dictator of a middle-sized country? It took some doing. From October 29 to March 2, the Clinton administration's management of the most recent phase of the Iraq crisis fluctuated between mediocre and abysmal. Virtually no rule of diplomatic prudence and good sense escaped violation, including, one fears, the rule holding that the strategic misjudgments of great powers rarely go unpunished.

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