Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Are We Doing In The Middle East?

Can anyone explain the current United States foreign policy in the Middle East?
Can anyone give us 25 cogent words on what we are trying to accomplish in the region?
Is our policy one of counterterrorism or counterinsurgency? 
Are we nation building or simply deposing regimes as a matter of course?
Let’s review!
For decades the United States supports the Mubarak regime in Egypt knowing full well that he tortures dissidents and violates the civil rights of his people.  We send him $1.3 billion in annual aid while his people starve.  The masses rise up to protest Mubarak’s abusive policies.  Suddenly we turn our back on him.  ‘It’s time for Mubarak to step down” the President Obama says.
Mubarak is arrested. The president says ‘The people have spoken.”  National elections are held.  The people vote Mohammed Morsi, a member of the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood, as their president.  The $1.3 billion in US aid continues. 
Pro-Mubarak members of parliament refuse to allow the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood members to be seated.  Morsi responds by granting himself sweeping powers and imposing his interpretation of Sharia Law.  The United States does nothing.  The aid keeps flowing.  After a few short months the masses rise up in protest.  Morsi is ousted in a military coup.  Violence erupts in the streets as the Egyptian military seizes control of the government.  It is only after the military kills hundreds of protesters that the United States “secretly” shuts off the money faucet.  US “allies” Israel and Saudi Arabia vow to replace the replace the American funds.  The US remains silent.
We see the United States following a different path in Libya.
Muammar Gaddafi is a ruthless dictator.  He tortures dissidents and violates the civil rights of his people.  He murders thousands of his people.  The Libyan people rise up in protest.  The president says:  ‘Gaddafi must go.”  The United States goes to the UN and builds a coalition for the purpose of outing the Libyan dictator.  The US and its coalition partners arm the protestors and conduct airstrikes against the regime.  Gaddafi is found by the rebels and shot.
Then of course there is Syria.
Bashar al-Assad is a ruthless dictator.  He tortures dissidents and violates the civil rights of his people.  He murders thousands of Syrians.  The Syrian people rise up in protest.  The president says: “Assad must go.”  But the US does nothing to facilitate Assad’s removal.  The administration refuses to arm the rebels.  Assad’s forces kill over 100,000 Syrians.   The US remains a silent spectator.
The Middle East continues to unravel while the world’s lone Super Power and provider of military security to most of the region stands on the sidelines.
So what exactly is our foreign policy in the Middle East?  We don’t have the answers…but we do know this.  When the president of the United States declares:  “(fill in the blank) must go” there are definitive repercussions.  
Those words come with consequences.  The president might want to avoid sticking his toe in the water unless he is ready to jump into the deep end.
And before jumping into the deep end the president might want to ask this question:    Is the United States of America so committed to democracy that it is willing to support a democratically elected Islamist government?
Our actions in Egypt, Libya and Syria would indicate that question has yet to be answered.   


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