Battleland

Why America’s Middle East Policy is Doomed

The U.S. is pursuing a self-destructive grand strategy in the Middle East. It's based on a pair of conflicting objectives, each bathed with high-toned rhetoric about promoting human rights and democracy:

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The U.S. is pursuing a self-destructive grand strategy in the Middle East. It’s based on a pair of conflicting objectives, each bathed with high-toned rhetoric about promoting human rights and democracy:

– The pursuit of strategic economic advantage in the Arab states.

– Support of the consolidation of Israel.

That’s the view of retired U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman, who shared it in a talk at the Washington-based Middle East Policy Council Jan. 16.

Without explicitly saying so, Freeman shows how the triangle of mismatches among our words and actions and the world those words and actions purport to deal with contradict the criteria of a sensible grand strategy.

He explains how interaction is sapping the moral authority of United States, and in so doing, it is dangerously reducing our capacity for independent action. Freeman’s line of argument is entirely consistent with the theories evolved by the late American strategist, Colonel John Boyd.

Freeman reveals why these self-inflicted mismatches are coming to a grand-strategic head, and — if left unaddressed — will blowback to America’s detriment.  There is no wasted verbiage in Freeman’s text — every paragraph is a clearly-written building block in a sweeping tour de force that is worthy of your careful study.

Grand Waffle in the Middle East

By Chas W. Freeman Jr.

Middle East Policy Council (MEPC)  —  January 16, 2013

Over the past half century or so the United States has pursued two main but disconnected objectives in West Asia and North Africa: on the one hand, Americans have sought strategic and economic advantage in the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, and Egypt; on the other, support for the consolidation of the Jewish settler state in Palestine.  These two objectives of U.S. policy in the Middle East have consistently taken precedence over the frequently professed American preference for democracy.

These objectives are politically contradictory.  They also draw their rationales from distinct moral universes.  U.S. relations with the Arab countries and Iran have been grounded almost entirely in unsentimental calculations of interest.  The American relationship with Israel, by contrast, has rested almost entirely on religious and emotional bonds.  This disconnect has precluded any grand strategy.

Full thing here.

3 comments
zmcguiness
zmcguiness

Everyone has missed the unintended result. The collapse of the western supported,  or engendered,  dictatorships is causing the self destruction of the middleast. This uniintended consequence, in the context of dramatic increases in western security, will be the self destabilisation of the region with limited effect on the west. This self destruction requires no assistance from the west as local rivalries are sufficient to insure endless conflict, locally contained. Tragic but inevitable. 

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Obviously US Middle East policy HAS failed, based on the evidence. It's a matter of fact that the US has destabilized, or helped destabilize, every country on a line between India and the Med.  That includes Pakistan, Afghanistan Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The continued support for Israel's crimes are also unpopular. As a result, the U.S. is more unpopular than ever in the middle East.

James Zogby, Jul 15, 2011, quote:

 In our survey of over 4,000 Arabs from six countries (Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), we found that favorable attitudes toward the U.S. had declined sharply since our last poll (which had been conducted in 2009 after Obama's first 100 days in office).

U.S. favorability ratings, in most Arab countries, have now fallen to levels lower than they were in 2008, the last year of the Bush administration. In Morocco, for example, positive attitudes toward the United States went from 26 percent in 2008 to a high 55 percent in 2009. Today, they have fallen to 12 percent. The story was much the same in Egypt, where the U.S. rating went from 9 percent in 2008 to 30 percent in 2009, but has now plummeted to 5 percent in this year's survey.

A review of the poll's other results makes it clear that the continuing occupation of Palestinian land is seen by most Arabs as both the main "obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East" and "the most important issue for the U.S. to address in order to improve its ties with the Arab World".
http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/07/15/diminishing_goodwill_for_US_Middle_East_policy

DenisMacEoin
DenisMacEoin

Freeman calls Israel 'the Jewish settler state in Palestine'. There were Jewish settlers in the early days, before Israel was established, but they sure aren't settlers now, apart from the small numbers living in the West Bank settlements. Israel was built on resolutions by the League Nations and brought into existence by the United Nations. Wasn't the US a settler state on Indian land to start with? Weren't Australia and New Zealand settler states on Aboriginal and Maori land? Again, he says that US policies on the Middle East, including support for Israel,  'have consistently taken precedence over the frequently professed American preference for democracy'. What an obnoxious thing to say. Israel is a democracy in all respects: votes for all citizens, all adult citizens eligible to stand for parliament, free speech (probably more than in the US), laws that protect the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities – things not available in any other Middle Eastern country. If America doesn't stand up for the region's only true democracy, what on earth will it stand up for?


Read more: http://nation.time.com/2013/01/30/why-americas-middle-east-policy-is-doomed/#ixzz2JTrvp51a