Only someone with the historical and foreign-policy ignorance of Donald Trump would summarily withdraw our troops from Middle Eastern war zones. Or so we are told. But if that’s what it takes, let’s hear it for ignorance.
This is said with the understanding that those with far more knowledge of the situation are aghast. Their ranks include foreign policy experts, military generals, and Democrats and Republicans alike. We are, they say, ceding the region to Russia, abandoning sectarian allies, destabilizing the Middle East and facilitating the reformation of ISIS.
Yes, perhaps. But by contrast, how has the status quo worked out for us?
It has always been said of the Middle East, “You break it, you buy it,” and we have been paying the price of the merchandise we broke for going on three decades and counting.
When the late and unlamented Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990, it was sold to the American public as an unprovoked act of aggression. Saddam’s invasion may have been wrong, but it was not exactly unprovoked. Iraq was trying to rebuild after a draining war with Iran, but found its income crippled by a world oil glut. Iraq leaned on its erstwhile ally Kuwait to decrease production, thus forcing up the price of crude. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie initially told Saddam the U.S. had “no opinion” of the dispute, a position that changed once Iraq’s price-raising agenda became clear.
War was sold to Americans on two falsehoods: No. 1, that Saddam was planning to invade Saudi Arabia; and No. 2, that the Iraqi atrocities included chucking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and sending the machines back to Baghdad for use by the Iraqis. Both were propaganda cooked up by the Kuwaitis and then-secretary of defense Dick Cheney.
It would take even greater lies 13 years later to sell Americans on the second Gulf War, namely that Saddam was responsible for 9/11 and that he possessed weapons of mass destruction. Calling the shots and drumming up false narratives to dupe the American people in 2003 was now Vice President Cheney & Co., who always placed the interests of Haliburton and Big Oil ahead of the interests of their own country.
What the killing of Saddam accomplished was the dissolution of central authority. This void was quite happily filled by an al-Qaida splinter group that morphed into the Islamic State, which wreaked terror and havoc until Obama’s drone strikes decimated its leadership and Trump’s continued pressure forced the group to admit this past August that it had lost the war.
But in tracking down ISIS, we chased the Islamist zealots into Syria – what the Obama administration said would be only 50 or so troops in Syria quickly escalated to 2,000 – which devolved into an abject humanitarian catastrophe, from which there appears to be no escape but to surrender the region to Vladimir Putin.
Afghanistan was a bit different in that this was where the seeds of 9/11 were planted. Of course we had to go after Osama bin Laden, but by the time we got him, we had become elbow deep in the tar that is Afghanistan, a country that no one, not the Brits, not the Russians, not the Americans, had enjoyed any success in controlling over the past century.
So here we are. The lust for oil by various American leaders, now gone, has left us desperately trying to maintain order in three nations that we have broken. The fear, quite worthy of consideration, is that if we leave the Middle East, Islamic terrorists will rekindle their violent fires and once again set their sights on the American mainland. Fair enough, but this would imply we must stay there forever.
At this point, it might also be worth recalling that bin Laden’s main grudge against the United States was its military presence in the Levant. Of course, we have now given them dozens more reasons to despise us, but vacating the premises might at the very least make their recruiting videos seem less urgent.
We seriously erred when we entangled our military in that part of the world, just as we were warned by then-Sen. Robert Byrd. To get us out, someone is going to have to rip the Band-Aid off a particularly hairy arm.
This is not a job for Jimmy Carter, who could famously see eight sides of a three-sided issue.
Donald Trump’s primary asset seems to be an ability to commit atrocious acts with scant repercussion. He probably won’t follow through with his pronouncement. He seldom does. But something could be accomplished by his shambles of an administration if he would wrest us from the area once and for all. Or at least until history is forgotten and we go wading back in.
This article provided by NewsEdge.