My friend the Saudi essayist is still in California, still thinking about where the Middle East and the United States are headed, and although he doesn't say it here, I believe between the lines he's pondering Washington's plans for Syria when he suggests it's time for the USA to take a time out:
It has not been plain sailing for America these past years, whether internationally or domestically. America’s foreign engagements and her relations with the rest of the world could certainly be doing better. Domestically, polls, economic figures and the course of political battles could also be more positive. With all these roadblocks America has not had the time to reconsider its positions or to take a step back from it all. It is time for America to take a real time-out for a little introspection.
Of late, America has taken on too many battles, too many commitments, too many challenges. The many engagements of the war on terrorism, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the loss of international trust and support, and the imperial concept of pre-emption have sapped America’s strength abroad and at home. Rushing into huge tax cuts, the reform of Medicare and Social Security, “No Child Left Behind,” and the appointment of controversial figures and Supreme Court judges has compounded this problem at home, creating both confusion and disappointment.
It is sad to see a country with so much potential, such great people and such great previous achievements in such a state of suspense and bewilderment. But I have tremendous faith in the ability of Americans to get to work and confidently set out to resolve the problems that they have themselves created as well as those which were caused by nature or by the bad intentions of others.
As America looks inward, they will have the time to look at their own failures or mistakes as well as those of others. The political process and the principles to which Americans adhere are strong enough to get to the bottom of this and to remedy it; they have certainly done so in the past. This time-out has become absolutely essential, as rapidly succeeding setbacks and challenges are slipping out of America’s hands. Losing more time or accumulating more commitments could yet have far more damaging effects.
The fact that America still seems to be split down the middle between Republicans and Democrats is not a healthy or an encouraging sign. But I believe that the weight of the problems to be faced will bring Americans together to look for solutions and compromises. It will do America good to take this time to resolve within themselves the issues which have been created not by bad intentions, but by poor information, insufficient planning and analysis, and by certain officials choosing to play the part of ideologues rather than being realistic policy-makers.Like hurricanes, facing these various storms may be painful, destructive and require a lot of courage, but once the storms have been overcome a new life can start, fields can grow afresh, and a stronger consciousness, more aware of its abilities and its limitations will emerge. America has shown that it can weather its storms, now it is time for a new life, a new policy, a new direction. We are all waiting confidently to see it happen.