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Superb analysis: "Time to Ignore the Middle East?" A must-read!

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:15 PM
Original message
Superb analysis: "Time to Ignore the Middle East?" A must-read!
Time to Ignore the Middle East?

Leon Hadar | June 7, 2007

These days, conventional wisdom in Washington, DC holds that the Iraq War has been lost, that the Bush Doctrine of promoting unilateral regime change and spreading democracy in the Middle East has failed, and that the neoconservative ideologues who have dominated U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 are "out" while the realists are "in."

But the same conventional wisdom says you shouldn't hold your breatheven if an anti-war Democrat wins the White House in 2008, don't expect a revolutionary change in U.S. policy on the Middle East. In the best-case scenario, some U.S. troops would probably remain based in Iraq, and certainly in other parts of the Persian Gulf, as a way of demonstrating U.S. resolve to defend Saudi Arabia and the other oil-producing countries in the region; Washington would still maintain its strong military and economic support for Israel and try to mediate another peace process.

If anything, the election of one of the three leading Blue candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Barack Obama (D-NY), or former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)all of whom have little experience in national securitymight make it more likely that the United States could be drawn into a military confrontation with Iran as the new White House occupant tries to demonstrate that he or she is "tough." Hence, under either a Democratic or a Republican president, one should not be surprised to discover that the major element in the neoconservative agendamaintaining U.S. military and diplomatic hegemony in the Middle Eastwill likely remain alive and well, producing the never-ending vicious circle: more U.S. military interventions, leading to more anti-U.S. terrorism, resulting in more regime changes.

A lack of change in U.S. policy could be due to the power of inertia combined with the influences of the entrenched bureaucracies and powerful interest groups, the military-industrial complex, the "Israel Lobby," and the oil companies. But although all these players have major impacts on the policies pursued by the White House and Congress, the most important factor that makes it likely that U.S. interventionism in the Middle East will continue is the survival of what could be described as the U.S. Middle East Paradigm (MEP), whose origins go back to end of World War II and the start of the Cold War. Central to the MEP was the belief that competition with the Soviet Union made U.S. involvement in the Middle East a costly but necessary way to protect U.S. interests. The United States simply had to counter to Soviet ambitions. Notwithstanding the end of the Cold War, the MEP has continued to dominate the thinking of policymakers, lawmakers, and pundits in Washington. To paraphrase the famous saying, policy paradigms don't die, and unlike old generals, they don't even fade away.

<snip>

This essential paradigm has been accepted not only by U.S. neoconservatives, who have dominated post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy, but also by liberal internationalists and conservative and liberal realists. There may have been disagreements about tactics and emphasis among these elements of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, but all agreed that Washington should dominate policy in the region, or at least serve as balancer of last resort when conflicts arose.

<snip>

The costs of following neoconservatives' advice have become apparent. But most critics of the Bush administration still fail to offer anything other than different strategies to achieve U.S. hegemony in the region; they prefer to maintain the current MEP instead of replacing the bankrupted policy paradigm by challenging the need for U.S. intervention in the Middle East.

(much more at link -- these excerpts simply cannot do justice the scope of the author's argument)


Please go to the link and read the whole thing -- it's the most intelligent and trenchant alternative policy proposal I've read to date.

sw
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Rydz777 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:29 PM
Response to Original message
1. The Middle East is a perpetual quagmire. McArthur warned
against a land war on the mainland of Asia. A land war on the mainland of the Middle East is no better. Bush's adventure there quickly turned into a disaster, and the longer we stay the longer we prolong the damage. We should get out NOW, and a policy of benign neglect of the Middle East (i.e.ignoring it) merits serious consideration.
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LostInAnomie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
2. The sooner we make oil worthless...
... the sooner the problems in the middle east will be solved.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:41 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. Did you read the article? We don't NEED to stay involved in the ME for the oil.
Converting to a non-petroleum based economy is going to be a very long, involved process, and is beside the point in terms of the foreign policy proposals offered by author.

sw
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regnaD kciN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
3. "Benign neglect" of "tribal and religious conflicts"...
TRANSLATION: Stand by and do nothing while Israeli hard-liners implement ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories. :puke:

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. How is that any different from what's going on now with our completely one-sided involvement?
If we stopped keeping Israel's back, the dynamic would HAVE to change.

With the demise of the Soviet threat, continued U.S. intervention in the region serves mainly to promote anti-Americanism and terrorism. If a balancer of last resort is needed, let the European Union (EU), with its geographical proximity to and economic and demographic ties in the Middle East, do it. Likewise, the main threat to Israel's survival is not a lack of U.S. assistance, but Israel's control over the West Bank and Gaza and the continuing conflict with the Palestinians. U.S. support for Israel now creates disincentives for a settlement. The prospect of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East, and of a lower diplomatic profile in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, should produce incentives for both sides, as well as for the Arab states and the EU, to deal with it.

Of course, the necessary condition for constructive disengagement from the Middle East is a larger U.S. reconsideration of the idea that Washington should be the final arbiter in disputes in the region and throughout the world, which would mean not only tolerating but also welcoming activity by the EU and other players.
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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-10-07 02:25 AM
Response to Reply #3
24. First rule for any self-cleaning oven...
Make sure the door is firmly closed, and don't stick your head in the oven while it's cleaning itself or you'll get broiled alive.
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:39 PM
Response to Original message
4. K&R -- that IS an excellent article....
America MUST revise it's foreign policy in the middle east-- a democratic administration that pursues the same general objectives will simply perpetuate the mistakes Bush I, Clinton, and the neocons have made.

My favorite paragraph:

Consequently, it is more likely that Washington will eventually pull back from its dominant role in the Middle East not through a responsible rethinking of U.S. engagement, but through a series of mounting costs and disasters that eventually lead to a "destructive disengagement" from the region that will look likeand to a great extent will bea U.S. defeat and retreat. This is exactly what seems to be happening now.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 07:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
11. Thanks! I thought it was one of the smartest things I've read in a long time.
Unfortunately, I don't think there's much chance of our current corrupt political system bringing forth the kind of leadership it would take to "change the paradigm", so "destructive disengagement" is probably our fate -- at a terrible cost in lives and treasure.

But I'm glad you liked the article.

Thanks again,
sw
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. Ha! I just read this right before you posted it sw!
Thanks. It is indeed a must read!

:hi:
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Hah! Great minds thinking alike once again!
Were you surfing antiwar.com? That's where I oringinally found it, but I decided to go to the original source because I wanted to find out more about the author before I posted a link.

sw
:hi:
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. that is where I was!
smarty pants! ;)
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Hee hee. (and I'm psychic, too...)
:P
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rustydad Donating Member (753 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 06:59 PM
Response to Original message
10. Peak Oil
This article is correct on the politics of the ME. But not factoring in Peak Oil leaves out an important aspect of our policies. It is true that we import oil from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and western Africa and not much from the ME. Yet Cantaral in Mexico is in serious decline and Canada is trying desperately to increase oil sand production in order to maintain current exports and is likely to fail to do so. Chavez has nationalized his oil fields which likely will lead to falling production.

So the ME is seen by the US as an important source of oil going into the future. This both for us as a source and as a means of controlling the behavior of other rival powers like China, India, and the EU. In the end I agree that we will be forced out of Iraq as it simply becomes too expensive to hang on. Bob
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. "...a means of controlling the behavior of other rival powers" But that's the thing,
"rival powers" for WHAT? Why should we "control" the rest of the world? Peak oil means that EVERYONE is going to have to gear up for a post-petroleum economy. Why can't we work on THAT instead of world domination?

sw
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rustydad Donating Member (753 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-10-07 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #12
27. We could
But we won't for now. Change is not something Americans willingly accept. The major powers that shape our political system are the big corporatons. The biggest are in the military industrial complex and the energy industry. They stand to gain if the US can dominate on the world stage. Look at it this way. The real players have known about Peak Oil for a long time. Yet our cars and trucks have gotten worse and worse mileage by design. If we had mandated that all vehicles get 75 mpg (a doable thing) we might not be importing any oil. If we had mandated super insulated and small efficient living and working spaces we might have had enough natural gas for another century. But instead our leaders, on both sides of the isle, have persued policies of consumption and waste. As the worlds resources of everything vital to human existence as we want it dwindle the outcome will be competion by armed means. We will waste our last resources slugging it out with other powers until we are all dead or so exhausted we can fight no longer. Sad but it is the nature of human beings. Bob
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PDJane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. Peak oil is one part of the equation,
But so is that so-called full spectrum dominance thing.

The US military is the world's largest and most heedless single polluter. If the military is to continue using up resources, the middle east is the only place that they can continue to get the materials to do so. Remember that Iraq is sitting on not only oil, but tons of yellowcake.

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 07:57 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Most days I feel like there's no hope -- the MIC's stranglehold on our government is beyond
our power to defeat.

But I posted this article in the hope that at least looking at a different possiblity might help plant a small seed of change...

sw
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rustydad Donating Member (753 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-10-07 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #15
28. Always good to hope
The US after WW2 became an empire replacing the UK which had decided that the British Empire and British democracy could not co-exist and Empire must go. Unfortunately the US kept Empire at the expense of democracy. The good news is that in the real world economics trumps Empire no matter how many arms Empire amasses. The US is spending over a trillion dollars a year on maintaining Empire through arms. And most of that money is borrowed. When the world saw the US war machine as good and a fair policeman keeping the world at peace it was content to loan us the money for arms. Now with the ugly face of our political system unmasked the world must get rid of the US Empire before it drags the world into WW3. So the money will stop flowing to the US and down we go into a massive economic contraction coupled with massive inflation. Things often have a way of self correction, or at least I hope so. Bob
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-10-07 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. "...a massive economic contraction coupled with massive inflation."
I'm concerned that things could get very ugly here during that process of "self correction."

Our society as a whole has already been degenerating into greater brutishness and incivility for several decades as it is. I shudder to think of what kinds of rage and violence might be unleashed as things fall apart.

sw
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 07:58 PM
Response to Original message
16. Hoping to catch a 5th recommend here -- anybody? (nt)
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Tatiana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 08:01 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. With pleasure. n/t
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 08:02 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. Thank you! Much appreciated! (nt)
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The Magistrate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 08:07 PM
Response to Original message
19. Not A Bad Piece At All, Ma'am
Thank you for putting it up.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 08:13 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Your thanks is appreciated. I don't post much, but when I come across something of high quality,
I feel obliged to share it.

Nice to "see" you! :hi:

sw
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 08:36 PM
Response to Original message
21. One paragraph in the article reminded me of Japan in 1991
U.S. military force is quite likely not necessary to maintain access to Persian Gulf oil, either for the United States, Western Europe, or Japan. The oil-producing states have few resources other than oil, and if they don't sell it to somebody, they will have little wealth with which to maintain their power and curb domestic challenges. They need to sell oil more than the United States needs to buy it. If political and military influence is required to keep the oil flowing to Western Europe and Japan and increasingly to China, the countries that are truly dependent should be the ones to bear the cost.


Can't find a link--I'm summarizing from memory. Japan was less than enthusiastic about the first Gulf War, and someone from the US State Department was doing a hard sell, pointing out what a horrible thing it would be for a madman like Saddam Hussein to have so much control over a big supply of oil, what with Japan being entirely dependent on imported energy. The Japanese diplomat replied something to the effect of "We feel that whoever owns the oil will quickly realize that they have no option but to sell it."

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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Excellent! U.S. imperialists are utterly blinded by their single-minded drive for global hegemony,
and the endemic racism of our culture. They are blinded to the fact that other peoples can think for themselves and are just as bound to serve their own self-interests as we are.

sw
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bonito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-09-07 08:57 PM
Response to Original message
23. Thanks for posting this, K&R n/t
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Hippo_Tron Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-10-07 03:20 AM
Response to Original message
25. The middle east would be A LOT better off if we'd started ignoring it over 50 years ago
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WritersBlock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-10-07 06:34 AM
Response to Original message
26. This is really good. Highly recommended read.


Thanks for posting this, SW.

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