With the US distracted by Sandy, will the Middle East's own sandstorms still matter?
Prospects for peace in the Middle East may have eluded previous US presidents for years, but the topic still makes it to the Democratic-Republican scoreboard.
After the third and final presidential debate got mired in the Mideast (leaving us tempted to believe that US foreign policy was all about the Middle East, with a dash of China, leaving the Monroe Doctrine and with it the Mexico borders consigned to the Wild Wild past), we were forced to accept that the Middle East still mattered for the superpower’s all-American election.
As a report by the Carnegie Foundation put it, “rivalries have long crisscrossed the Middle East …over ambitions, ideology, religion, oil and wealth”.
This particular rivalry – where incumbent Democrat Obama took on challenger Republican Romney- was no exception. The two slung it out on the hotly contested matter of what to do about the problem called the Middle East. It seemed that the twain shared only sacred task: saving Israel from Iran. Both were on the same page that the US should defend Israel if Iran attacked the US’s long time friend in the rapidly evolving region.
Nevertheless, and despite all the sabre-rattling that went on ahead of the elections between the two fore-runners, perhaps it will be on the domestic score-sheet where accounts are settled. Rebuilding the weak US economy or handling Hurricane Sandy must surely come ahead of tackling the intransigent issues of peace in Palestine. Who is a Romney or even a tried and tested Obama, to heal a splintered region more entrenched than ever by Sunni-Shia feuds?
Weather might be the fall-back topic of conversation for Brits throughout the ages, but the British small-talk staple it seems, specifically the inclement and stormy kind, could be the litmus test for the US Presidency. With coverage of the upcoming elections being dominated by the ferocious winds of Sandy, here’s a reminder of what the two big guns had to say on the ever so important question of the world's petrol pump as they thrashed it out back when they could still afford to talk bigger than the weather. Geography, doctrines, war-budgets and the Arab Spring vote - it's all here for Arab-American voters to take note. And yet, what they do or don't do with the Middle East or the rest of the world for that matter (whether they outsource their foreign policy to Israel, or the new kids on the block, the Arab Springers, or even reinvent Reagan's Star Wars) becomes a moot point.