NOTE: I wrote this draft before the attack that killed the al-Quds general in Iraq.
These conclusions may prove to be a moot point.
The US started digging a hole for itself in the Middle East in 2003…..and there seems to be no way to stop digging the hole…..any hope that an end was insight was dashed at every turn….
America’s post–Cold War journey in the Middle East looked a lot more promising at first than it does today. Blessed with a stronger geopolitical position than its successors, the George H. W. Bush administration was also less prone to magical thinking. The administration brought discipline to the challenge of mobilizing the Desert Storm coalition—and to resisting the temptation to pursue fleeing Iraqi forces to Baghdad and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Secretary of State James Baker masterfully orchestrated the Madrid peace conference between Arabs and Israelis, but kept his expectations in check, careful not to overpromise what might come of the long slog of negotiations.
Bill Clinton built on that foundation, with painstaking progress throughout the 1990s but a debilitating setback at the Camp David Summit in 2000. George W. Bush’s modest successes, such as persuading Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya to abandon terrorism and a rudimentary nuclear program, were overwhelmed by the massive failure of the Iraq War in 2003. That tragically unnecessary conflict laid bare the deep and violent fissures of Iraq, opened the playing field for Iranian ambitions, and unsettled Arab partners already drowning in their domestic dysfunctions. The War on Terror crowded out other priorities. To the extent that the administration tried to press other concerns—about the political and economic stagnation on which terrorists fed, for example—the debacle in Iraq and our own War on Terror abuses made us unpersuasive messengers.
Let’s say that the US does find a way to end its involvement in the Middle East…..what then?
It was 5 August 1990, just days after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had invaded and conquered all of Kuwait, and US President George H.W. Bush could not have been clearer as he spoke from the South Lawn at the White House: ‘This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.’ Over the next six months, Bush proved to be a man of his word, as the United States sent half a million soldiers to the Middle East and led an international coalition that liberated Kuwait.
Three decades later, a very different American president embraced a very different US policy. In the wake of abandoning its Kurdish partners in Syria who had fought valiantly in defeating Islamic State terrorists, the US stood by as Iranian drones and missiles attacked Saudi Arabian oil installations, temporarily taking half of its capacity offline.
Welcome to the post-American Middle East. To be fair, the phrase is something of an exaggeration, as the US hasn’t withdrawn from the region. In fact, it has recently sent additional troops to deter and, if necessary, help defend Saudi Arabia from future Iranian attacks and possibly respond directly to them. But there’s no getting around the fundamental truth that the US has reduced both its presence and role in a region that it has dominated for nearly half a century/
Recently at the NATO meetings the French made several comments about the US and the Middle East…..
with all due respect to the French defense minister, her analysis is both backwards and tone-deaf. She rightly mentions France’s (and America’s) role in fueling the Syrian Civil War, but totally ignores the indescribable damage that has ensued. The human cost alone of that conflict has been staggering, yet nothing has been achieved aside from the rise of the Islamic State and other radical Sunni groups.
Parly also has the audacity to decry Iranian influence in the Middle East. Yet she glossed over the fact that that influence in Syria and Yemen, over its Shia Muslim friends, was directly proportional to the pressure being placed on those Shia groups by Sunni forces, which were backed by Western military might. In other words, Iran only became heavily involved in Syria after the West decided to foment a civil war and attempt to topple the Assad regime.
Likewise did the chaos in Syria resulted in Assad inviting Russia to enter the region.
France does not want the Middle East….they have had bad history there and why would anyone embrace them as a leader in the region?
As I wrote earlier……this is mostly a moot point now that the US has decided to escalate by adding more troops and using drones to kill opposing generals……https://lobotero.com/2020/01/03/big-news-in-the-middle-east/
All we can do is wait and see what form the retaliation will take….
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