U.S. can’t dominate Middle East

Published 9:48 am Friday, August 7, 2015

Senator Graham, R-NC, strongly advocates intervention in Iraq and other Middle East volatile nation states. But Graham is wrong on virtually every measure, failing to apply learning from both our experiences in the ME and to grasp a vision of the future of U.S. foreign policy.

What have we learned from U.S. engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Surely we have learned that the concept of “preemptive attack” is a failed policy. That argument, essentially attack potential enemies before they pose a threat, took us into a costly was in Iraq in terms of Americans lives lost and many more wounded, and in terms of Iraqi lives lost, disrupted or damaged in all the ways of war.

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And it would be impossible to deny that we have learned the incredible differences in our culture from those in ME, where radical religion and never-ending violence reflect failed educational systems and political systems across the region.

But have we learned the less obvious lessons that should guide our ME policy in the future?

Have we learned that, but for Israel and Turkey, every nation in the region sponsors some version of terrorism, Sunni or Shiite? For each nation funds one version of warfare based upon their political majorities religious loyalty.

And is one group, Shiite or Sunni, less prone to conduct terrorism? Hardly, they offer different versions of the same horrific acts against innocent people.

Have we learned that religious war in the ME cannot be resolved by the US, but only by the people living in the region? The failed peace in Iraq stands as a symbol that so long as Sunni’s and Shiite cannot tolerate each other no peace can be lasting.

Where once we thought the U.S. and our allies could cap the regional violence by supporting leaders there sensitive to our need to buy oil and make their nations rich, today that no longer remains possible. Today, no matter what coalition of Western democracies we assemble we will always be seen as outsiders in ME politics, and outsiders without the power to control violence inflamed by religious teachings that embrace killing.

If we can recognize the limits of power in the ME, what does that tell us about our future policy there that Senator Graham would fail to see in his policy of looking to the past to find the future?

We should know now that any undertaking in the ME should be done with partners, both in the West, and within the ME. The U.S. can no longer afford nor dominate outcomes in nation states at war with themselves.

And we should know that we cannot afford the cost to our economy of endless war when our roads are crumbling under us, our colleges are becoming too expensive for our children, and our retirement promises are at risk.

But should we not also see the declining role of the ME in energy fulfillment demands? We are increasing efficiency in the design of oil-using cars and equipment while the U.S. now produces more of its own oil than any other nation. Our dependence upon the ME oil supply is diminishing monthly.

Is not the day when we no longer need ME oil on our horizon?

And does this not mean that the nations of the ME will be left behind economically, culturally, and socially without decisive changes in education and political leadership? Those nations must transform themselves into new economies or fail as nation states.

Senator Graham is seeking yesterday’s solutions to tomorrow’s problems, and that effort is doomed to fail.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.