GOP Claims About Middle East – Bring It On
GOP Presidential hopefuls are now singing to a not so unfamiliar song, “President Obama has lost Iraq and Syria”. The chorus of this song assures listeners “the GOP is strong on security and will destroy the enemies overseas”. Hmmm.
For the GOP, there are many ways to lose the 2016 election and only a few ways to win it. Keeping away from extremes and demonstrably incorrect proposals provides the highway to victory. The GOP hopefuls, however, see only their current competitors (all GOP members) and have constructed their sound bites with an eye to one upping their colleagues. Come November 2016, these claims will almost certainly come how to haunt them.
For foreign policy. the Middle East and ISIS seems to GOP candidates the most attractive target. President Obama “should have” done this or that, and the President “shouldn’t have done this or that”. No doubt the Middle East is a mess but here is why the GOP had better tip toe quietly on this subject if they want to win in 2016.
- There was no reason to have invaded Iraq in the first place. GOP President George W Bush under pressure from his GOP Vice President Dick Cheney rammed the invasion through on what have been shown to be trumped up and erroneous grounds.
- The invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was bungled and unleashed a host of predictable sectarian problems which are playing out today.
- The surge, which seemed to stabilize Iraq, in fact was not based upon US troop strength as many GOP members allege. Rather, the “surge” was about “buying the loyalty of Sunni militias and taking them off the battle field. Once the Shiite led government took charge, the payments were cut off and hell returned.
- The Iraq War was fought with a volunteer military and borrowed money. Why in the world is it just to go to war with only those who need a job and to fund this activity with money our children and grandchildren must pay back? If the GOP wants to advocate a new draft based military and a special war tax to pay for it, they will have at least gain some credibility. (not likely to happen)
- Syria and Iraq are not the worst or most dangerous place in the world today. Arguably they are also not the most strategic. What about North Korea or China’s South China Sea aspirations? What about Russia and its desire to regain the Soviet Union greatness?
- And just what could the US do to put the genie back in the bottle? Help the Shiites and de facto help the Iranians? Or help the Sunnis and make the Saudis happy and the Iranians upset. How long do you think peace would last?
The Middle East future is still immersed in a cloud. While Sunni versus Shiite is real, even more real is Saudi oil against Iranian oil, or said differently, it is a groups possessing oil and power against all those who might want to take it from them, especially those without oil. In short, the Middle East does not appear today as a great place to move the family.
On one level, simple partisan politics could explain the GOP argument that President Obama lacks a Middle East strategy. On another level, and a far more important insight, the GOP’s view is dangerously naive. As a Presidential campaign plank, the GOP argument would rival “into the valley of death rode the 600”.