Making Sense In A Dysfunctional Region

Civil War continues in Syria.  Egypt is under marshall law.  Libya is unsafe at any speed.  And, Iran quietly continues to prepare for building and deploying nuclear weapons.  But that’s not enough.

Syrian refugees are chocking Jordan’s ability to meet its own residents’ needs.  Israel, who is busily building settlements on the West Bank, has had to stop its rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear ambitions because of a greater fear.  Syria may lose control of its gas warfare weapons and these weapons may end up in the hands of Hezbollah and Hamas.  Hmmm, what a mess.

What should US Middle East foreign policy look like?  Should we invade, arm the insurgents, or just sit on the side lines?

There are many “would have, should have, could have” statements that come to mind.  Like “tell me again why we invaded and occupied Iran” or “why we have allowed the Israelis to stonewall negotiations with the Palestinians” or “why did we allow Egyptian election when it was clear the Muslim brotherhood, if elected, would end the fledgling democracy?  

As time passes, it is becoming clearer that while Russia, China, and the US have different self interests, none of these countries can obtain their goals at the expense of the others.  In other words, peace and stability in the Middle East can not be achieved where Russia gains some advantage over the US or China.  The same is true for China and the US.  

What is also becoming clearer is that the Middle East unrest is about wealth, who has it and who doesn’t.  The banner of Islam is a sham.  Religion and the hatred of Israel are simply tools various regional leaders use to maneuver the masses in the direction they see as most advantageous to accumulating wealth and power.

Israel represents a special situation (even though Israeli lives are no more valuable than Arab lives).  For Israel the US could define clear boundaries, for example any attack on Israel within the borders defined by the “green line” (or where territorial swaps have been agreed to), will be considered an attack on US interests and dealt with accordingly.  For all other Middle East areas, internal disruptions (like Syria, Egypt, or Libya) are matters for the residents to resolve.  In other pun-like words, the US will no longer throw gasoline on the fire.

Such policy as I have just proposed will never become US policy.  There are too many special interests who still see advantageous to be gained.  Others, like those who pray to god for a Notre Dame victory over Boston College, naively think there are magic bullets (divine intercessions) which will turn the Middle East into a picnic area.

President Obama’s Middle East policy, although nuanced, has come the closest to what makes sense to me.  Maybe that’s the best we can expect now.

Maybe that’s why unidentified big money is mounting attack ads against Department of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel.   

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3 Comments on “Making Sense In A Dysfunctional Region”

  1. List of X Says:

    I agree, this is about poverty, but it’s not just about the poverty. I doubt that Saudi Royal family has any more friendly feelings toward Israel than an average Saudi citizen has. Israel is just a very convenient target to blame for any problems its neigboring countries have but can’t or won’t address. It’s very useful to have an external enemy (actual or imagined), and pretty much every country which has not attained any widespread prosperity has to have them. However, there has to be a plausible case for why someone is an enemy, and Islam does makes this case for Israel.

    • X, good to hear from you.

      There are many reasons that Arabs do not like Israel… from “we did not ask them to move here” to “they are infidels”… For those trying to seize power (and the wealth that comes with it), as you point out, having an “enemy” is useful.

      When the US invaded Iraq an extremely useful lesson was shown to us… Although they were all Muslims, you would never know it. Shiites gladly killed Sunnis and vice versa… Hmmm, all believe in Allah?

      • List of X Says:

        I haven’t really left, I’m just not able to like or comment on posts on certain days, though I can still read them.

        This infighting seems to be a standard practice of any Abrahamic religion – to split into sects and then fight it out over which sect worships their common God correctly. Christians had gone through the same period around Reformation (Catholics vs. Protestants), and I believe so did Jews before Romans expelled them from Palestine.

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