The Middle East… aka the Quagmire.
Gone are the days of Ralph Bunche and the quest of a two state solution for Palestine and Israel. Gone are the days of a sustained Middle East policy that contained each country and its dictator, it was a simple matter of picking the side of either the Soviet Union, or the United States. Gone are the days of Amwar Sadat, which tired of war and finally made peace with Israel ( he died for that decision by the way ). Dictators knew their country and governed by a simple rule: Ingratiate those close and loyal to your dictatorship. Jail or kill those who oppose you, maintain a formidable army for regional control and projection of power.
- So, we are facing a proxy war in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia vs Iran as the regional powers jockeying for control.
- Yemen could be the start of the battle ground.
- All of the old dictators are gone in the following countries: Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, and soon to be Syria. These former dictatorships had a low level promise democracy once toppled, but, lets be clear on this: democracy is something the Middle East has to reconcile on its own, after the dust clears on who will run these countries and people are tired of killing each other.
- Israel as of yet is playing the waiting game, to see who will rise as their new nemesis. They already know who it is.
- If the United States stays out of it, let the last two remaining powers Saudi Arabia and Iran fight it out in Yemen, and come to terms with the winner of this. The problem is, the United States won’t stay out of it.
- Lots of “talking” is going on. Saudi now says if Iran gets the opportunity to make a nuclear device, they will build one on their own.
- Countries seem to think, especially Middle Eastern countries, that somehow, getting a nuclear device evens the play field for them. In some ways, it does. Turkey, Iran, and Israel are emerging as the powers in the region. The reason why Turkey is in this is because of their NATO membership, stable government, and well equipped army.
I’m not seeing any positive outcomes in the Middle East, as long as religion plays to the politics of these Muslim countries. If you recall your history, it took the almost complete destruction of Germany’s and Japan’s infrastructure before they finally decided to capitulate. And they were were not driven by a radical version of a religion to justify their cause. My bet is that that total destruction, and the detonation of a device or two wouldn’t change the lexicon of their cause for fighting in the first place.
Finally, what was President Obama suppose to do? The Republicans want to blame him for the Middle East’s current condition, starting with the pull out of American forces in Iraq, which left a “vacuum” for the current conditions of ISIL to try to claim an Islamic state. President Obama campaigned on ending the United States military commitment to Iraq, and when the Iraq would not agree on the number of troops to stay in Iraq, He took the high road, and left the country. Remember, it is their country, not ours. Remember, they have been occupied for over 10 years, and have been well trained by the United States military. The choice is simple, do you keep propping up dictators ( who actually know their countries very well ), or stop living in old world politics and craft a world that is equitable to all. Hard to do, that requires a specific plan of leadership that I believe the President of the United States has not addressed. I’m not joining on the band wagon in saying he lacks leadership, but, it requires a Teddy Roosevelt diplomacy to help build a “new world”. Daunting task by the way.
The biggest mistakes were the following:
- Invading Iraq in the first place because they were already held in a box with the no fly zone and severe sanctions. The capacity of creating nuclear weapons or chemical weapons were never found, and was a manufactured lie to the world and the American public.
- Disbanding the Iraq army after the invasion. The army and the police force should have been maintained in order to keep “order” after the invasion, and subsequently those same troops who participated in the subsequent insurgent war within country.
- The United States has a misguided view of Democracy in the Middle East. They train armies and police well but seem to want the country to move to Democracy too fast. Democracy requires just as much “training”, as well. And, we keep forgetting, you have to want Democracy. Do countries who have been run by dictators for over 30+ years ready for Democracy?
- Halliburton and other companies getting no bid contracts for army supply and infrastructure projects. Saddam may have been a ruthless dictator, but he keep the lights on. War profiteering was ramped, as well as paying factions off during the “surge” and declaring it a success.
- The subsequent government formed by Al-Maliki has been a disaster. I’ll elaborate that in another blog, but with money missing and with the almost complete destruction of Iraq security forces under his rule, he has provided misguided leadership.
- The Kurdish seem to be the only stable voice in northern Iraq, wanting to take charge, fighting ISIL, and wanting land of their own. The problem with this is Turkey, who has a large Kurdish population in the south east part of their country. The Kurds want some autonomy. There is a need to explore this possibility.
- The Yemen fight is “their” fight, not the United States. Yemen is another Afghanistan.
Many many problems and no easy solutions. A quagmire my dear friends….