The Middle East is going to hell in a handbasket. Should we just let it?


The Middle East, that is, all of Arabia and Persia, has been a basket case since before I was born. Deeply dysfunctional societies that rival sub Sahara Africa for poverty and violence.

The Bush administration’s operations in Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq were an attempt to achieve a strategic realignment of the political landscape of the region. To some extent, it did do that. Of course, a decade of US intervention is hardly enough to change a thousand years of culture. So what’s next? The Arab Spring is bearing bitter fruit. Iran is striving to become the hegemon of the Gulf. Israel faces (as always) an existential crisis, and Turkey is no longer the sick man of Europe, but becoming the sick man of the Levant.

What should the US do?

Spengler, writing at the Asia Times, says our best course of action may be to let things get worse. His hinge of history, as it were, is to support, either tacitly or explicitly, an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The response in the short term would be bad, and make the region more volatile. But doing nothing has a price as well:

Absent an Israeli strike, America faces:

  • A nuclear-armed Iran;
  • Iraq’s continued drift towards alliance with Iran;
  • An overtly hostile regime in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood government will lean on jihadist elements to divert attention from the country’s economic collapse;
  • An Egyptian war with Libya for oil and with Sudan for water;
  • A radical Sunni regime controlling most of Syria, facing off an Iran-allied Alawistan ensconced in the coastal mountains;
  • A de facto or de jure Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the Kingdom of Jordan;
  • A campaign of subversion against the Saudi monarchy by Iran through Shi’ites in Eastern Province and by the Muslim Brotherhood internally;
  • A weakened and perhaps imploding Turkey struggling with its Kurdish population and the emergence of Syrian Kurds as a wild card;
  • A Taliban-dominated Afghanistan; and
  • Radicalized Islamic regimes in Libya and Tunisia.
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    Read the whole thing, as they say.

    I’m not ready to sign off on all his conclusions, but it clear that our present course of action is deeply flawed and leaves us at risk, both in the short term and in the long term.

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    5 Comments

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    5 responses to “The Middle East is going to hell in a handbasket. Should we just let it?

    1. It’s kind of a bleak, almost nightmare scenario. The only winner is Russia? We’d see our fuel prices soar ($10/gallon anyone) with the Straits of Hormuz out of commission. I think he is also discounting too heavily that the current Egyptian government would sit out the fighting and that Hamas would restrict itself to lobbing rockets.

      As much as the southern Iraqis are Shia, I do t think that the Sunnis or the Kurds are going to want to be the junior partner to Iran. So it’s either they go back to shooting the Shias or they shoot the Iranians when they make their move.

      At the same time, China may decide its going to make a move on some of those atolls in the South China Sea while this administration dithers over what an appropriate response to the Iranians closing the straits is, who,e Nelson and Drake roll over in their grace as the Royal Navy is powerless to act on its own.

      Because I was sleeping so well as it is…..oy vey.

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    2. Grumpy

      Brad, you may have honest assessment of the situation in the Middle East and it sucks, but it is true. My question to you, is this, “Just what kind of action are you suggesting?” These People have been at one stage of war or another, since the beginning of time. What are we going to do to change that pattern? We are debt, up to our eyeballs! How do you plan on paying for it? Even if we scratch all of Obama’s programs, we don’t have the money for the personnel or weapons systems. We essentially fought a multi-theater war with tax-cuts, this just does not make sense.

      Neither candidate for President of the US, really inspires me. Everybody is looking for tax cuts and jobs. It should read something like this, “If we give you a tax cut, then that money should be used to create new jobs. In other words, you are not creating jobs, then no tax cuts. Most likely, you will even see a call for tax increase. Most of all, this money should never be considered as profit to you stockholders and pension program. This money should be considered as an investment in your business.

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      • LT Rusty

        Indirectly, any tax cut is always going to create jobs, even if it just goes to corporate bonuses. The money gets spent somehow. If it goes into some rich guy’s pocket, he’s still spending it on food, or gas, or something, and paying for the people who work in those industries.. If he invests it, it’s going into funds that invest in other businesses, thereby helping them grow and employ people.

        It’s extremely rare that anyone who gets a big fat paycheck lets his money sit quietly underneath the mattress. The people who get big fat paychecks understand that stagnant money doesn’t do anyone any good.

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      • I’d further not that, historically, cuts in the tax rate have lead to increases in tax revenues. We’re not broke because we cut tax rates and fought two wars. We’re broke because we’re spending money on “entitlements” that are absolutely unsustainable.

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    3. Grumpy

      I believe everybody remembers the bailout of the banks, some would call this, “corporate welfare”. One of the directors of the bank retired and drew a fat retirement, right after the “bank bailout”. Some have called that retirement contract as an agreement based upon contractual law. In my view, I would have had no problem with this action, and this were not a bank bailout with taxpayer funds. Brad and Rusty, this is my major point. Now, it is time for me to go back to sleep, have a great day.

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