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The surge is failing, but the government’s focus, such as it is, is on Iraq. Yet the whole Middle East is a tinderbox, and while the United States flexes its military and diplomatic muscles in Iraq, the rest of the region is lapsing into chaos. The notoriously volatile Palestinian refugee camp Ain al Hilweh is caught in a battle between Islamic militants and the Lebanese army. Four have died. Meanwhile, in a televised speech to commemorate the Six-Day War, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians were “on the verge of civil war.” Things in Gaza have gotten so bad that some Palestinian journalists have conjectured that many residents would prefer the Israeli occupation to the hunger and joblessness that have resulted from Israeli and U.S. sanctions. Lost ground in these difficult and longstanding conflicts means long-term problems. These, too, are partially attributable to the United States’ catastrophic occupation of Iraq.

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