March 3, 2011

American Middle East Policy: F.

While U.S. Middle East policy has ranged from a B to D under previous administrations, the current state of affairs represents no better than an F.  While the blame can not be laid entirely at the feet of President Obama, the lion's share certainly rests with his inaction.  Libya likely represents another lost opportunity for the United States in what is rapidly becoming a embarrassment of lost opportunities. The problem is bigger than the gaffes of just one President; it is a result of endemic short-sighted American Middle East policy that pre-dates President Obama, though his contributions to the problem have been major.

The idea of the United States brokering peace deals in the Middle East between Israel and all her neighbors is a noble goal, however for a country so far removed from the region, with little historical involvement relative to the lengthy history of the region, the United States is hard pressed to say that it holds any sort of emotional sway over any of the players in the region. Instead what it has working in its favour is significant military and economic power that can both be used to influence potential enemies and allies alike.

The route to peace doesn’t have to be through peace talks necessarily, and in either case, the important consideration for America is to protect her vital interests in the region. If the United States were an isolationist nation then, for now, what happens in the Middle East would be of little importance. Being an economic and military superpower however, the United States is by default impacted by events and policies and regional issues the world over. That notwithstanding, the United States does have allies and in the region the most important ally is of course Israel. Israel is not an ally by mere coincidence; it is a matter of predominantly common moral philosophy. American support for Israel is therefore also a matter moral imperative.

Since the Arab Israeli conflicts began, a number of important events have transpired across the region that have involved U.S. interests. Some have been responded to well and others poorly. The most obvious event was the hostage crisis of 1979-81. The Iranian Revolution against the Shah quickly devolved into an Islamic movement and eventual theocracy, weakened the United States in the eyes of the Arab World if not the world in general. In subsequent years Ronald Reagan’s dealing with Libya and with foreign unfriendlies in general, did much to reverse that negative impression. With George H.W. Bush, the liberation of Kuwait, was successful in the sense of acquiring some respect and some kinder consideration from many parts of the Arab world. But the failure to carry through into Baghdad for fear of de-stabilizing the region and emboldening Iran, merely set the stage for what would happen under George W. Bush in response to 9-11. In effect, the liberation of Iraq and the power vacuum it created was merely delayed for a few years.

That’s pretty much where things began to unravel. Regardless what your opinion on the invasion of Iraq might be, there was fallout for U.S. interests. Iran clearly began meddling in Iraq in order to destabilize both its former enemy in Iraq and it’s regional rival in the U.S. Further, it had the effect of tying up U.S. military options for other possible regional conflicts for the duration of the joint Iraq-Afghanistan wars. While no one likely foresaw the extended stay in Iraq, it should not have been entirely ruled out from the realm of possibility based on the fact that the U.S. still has bases in Western Europe, Japan and North Korea. As a result, manoeuvrability in subsequent situations has been hampered.

Since the invasion of Iraq, the United States has missed opportunities to make a difference in Iran’s Green Revolution, Egypt’s uprising as well as those in Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen as well as now Libya. These opportunities are not entirely the result of being hampered by forces being tied up in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama has missed a number of opportunities to use the soft power he and his Secretary of State have touted. Instead they’ve resembled a deer in the headlights in light of these uprisings.

The opportunity to win popular support by supporting these uprisings has largely been foregone. The opportunity to assess and impact possible outcomes through intelligence and/or diplomatic channels has seemingly been ignored and the United States is back to looking like an effete bystander with no inclination to move in any direction. The opportunity to shape or guide Egypt’s future in a more democratic direction seems largely ignored.

While President Obama has been hampered, there has been far more opportunity to do something, anything, rather than standing by as a spectator. This seems the worst of all failures in light of these events: the failure borne of inaction rather than an effort to try to shape the destiny of U.S. interests via active involvement. Saying a leader has to step down or that brutal repression will not be tolerated is meaningless unless it is backed up by a forceful response – be it military or diplomatic in nature. Freezing assets is perfunctory at best. Embargoes are meaningless when Libyan fighter jets are strafing their own people. The window for diplomacy has closed without any meaningful effort, and the opportunity to engage militarily has all but been ruled out, publicly no less, and can’t even be used as a bluff or a bargaining chip. Taking the destiny of the United States into its own hands, regardless of success or failure is the American way . Merely voting present and waiting for Britain or someone else to step into the breach is to deny American exceptionalism, and that, is a dereliction of presidential duty on a number of levels.


  1. Can we grade lower than an F? Hell, this clown can't even bring himself to say the murder of our 2 airmen in Germany was by a Radical Muslim, even though the guy confessed! Must not want to upset his Muslim brethren I guess!

  2. You think it's an F- rating? Or a G? I get that.

    To be fair though I don't think Obama is a Muslim. I don't think he's a Christian either. I think he's an atheist and the church stuff, while poorly chosen, was for public consumption.

    As for the Muslim thing, I think he's an apologist because he wants to minimize anything that distracts from his bigger government agenda. It amounts to him having one part cowardice and one part having blinders on.

  3. More like a Z-. Something I've cited before.

    In his own words! “ Quote from Obama’s book: Audacity of Hope: ‘I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.

    If anyone had done their homework on this guy, we wouldn't be in the situation we are now. His own words (a lot in the book about his Socialist leanings also) if nothing else leads to concluding the worse about him.

  4. Trust but verify. In this case, don't even trust.

    To me whether he is Muslim or not doesn't really matter. And while he leans really far leftward, even that doesn't matter. The harm he is doing to the nation is more than reason enough to want to make sure he doesn't get re-elected. The decisions he is making may well be a result of socialist beliefs and Muslim sympathies, but the 'why' is now far less important than the 'what' (or WTF - which is definitely not French).

    'Why' is an exercise in the theoretical. There are times for that, but now is a time to focus on what his actual deeds and decisions are. They need to be stopped politically, and where they can't be, made transparent to voters so they can see what is really going on. After he's voted out in 2012, I'll gladly join in a discussion of his motivations. Although even then it will be speculation and conjecture. I believe even his book was written as a narrative to portray himself in the way he wanted people to perceive him.


Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This