Friday, November 27, 2015

Our Dangerous Desire For Middle East Hegemony

This is perhaps the best, most sober and cogent argument I have read in favor of a reduced American influence and policy making in the Middle East in return for a renewed engagement by our European allies in our heretofore one sided alliance: Europe’s Mission in the Middle East by Leon Hadar. Hadar's basic position is that the U.S. has dominated the influence game in the Middle East to prevent anyone else from gaining too much influence and in doing so has permitted and encouraged Western Europe to subcontract the geopolitical field in their own backyard to America. It is a great piece overall but I really liked this point.
While Obama has tried to cut the costs of upholding Pax Americana in the Middle East using a reactive and often ineffective policy, neither he nor any leading Democratic or Republican figure has come up with a proposal to replace the Middle East strategy adopted after the Cold War. That strategy, which was pursued by several administrations, was based on the assumption that when considering interests and values, it is the obligation of the United States to secure the balance of power in the Middle East. But from the Iraq War to the Syrian civil war, as well as through the Arab Spring, that policy ended up with outcomes that were harmful to U.S. interests and not aligned with its values.
This mindset is why Republican candidates for the most part trip over themselves in an attempt to one-up each other for the title of "Most Pro-Israel Candidate", as if one of the Constitutional duties of the President of the United States is to see to the defense of Israel. Some days it seems like what is happening in the Middle East is more important than the U.S. debt charging toward $20,000,000,000,000 or the disaster of Obamacare which the next President will need to address or any other of the thousands of pressing issues that concern America. The reality on the ground is that we don't really understand what dynamics are in play in the Middle East and we usually make it worse the more we try to intervene and tinker with the governments and cultures of nations that already hate us.

Apart from Rand Paul there are very few rational arguments being put forth anywhere in the main
political parties that is based on common sense and reality. Normally what we hear is more involvement, more lives being spent, more billions being tossed away and less security for the very nation allegedly being defended. When you consider that the refugee crisis is properly handled by the bordering states of Europe, when you look at a map and see that the nations that sit to the immediate northwest of the Middle East, etc. all point toward a situation that should be led by Europe, not America, then the policies being put forth seem even more ridiculous. Before we get in a shooting war with the Russians, something that a lot of people in America and Russia alike have been pining for since before the end of the Cold War, we should send a nice postcard to Europe and tell them it is high time for them to open their wallets and recruiting stations and start defending themselves.


Aussie John said...


Observing from afar causes me to ask WHY each side of politics in the USA takes the particular position they do on Israel.

I can imagine why from past history. but have never read a cogent explanation.

Arthur Sido said...

Israel (the secular nation) has a weird relationship with America, I believe partly over residual guilt from World War II and increasingly because of the influence of dispensationalism which impacts a huge swath of the church that assumes that hermeneutic is how it has always been interpreted. When you blur that with American military adventurism around the Middle East with one nation that we handle with kid gloves (and bags of money), you get the goofy relationship the Christian right has with Israel. As far as the Left I simply assume they are anti-Israel for no reason other than the right is pro-Israel.