Monday, May 3, 2010

The U.S. in the Middle East: A Bleak Picture

There is an article in Asia Times by Spengler called, "General Petraeus' Thirty Years War." It offers a bleak picture of U.S. Middle East policy and wars, and takes a negative view of the efforts of General Petraeus -- sacrilege to many on the right. Here are some key excerpts. First Iraq:
Starting with Iraq, the American Military has militarized large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the name of pacification. And now America is engaged in a grand strategic withdrawal from responsibility in the region, leaving behind men with weapons and excellent reason to use them.
He sees the same thing happening in Afghanistan, and even in Palestine.
under General Keith Dayton, ... America is pouring money - which is to say weapons - into disputed areas ... and building the core of a Palestinian army. The latter's mission is to impose a pro-Western Palestinian government on a population of whom two-thirds oppose the two-state solution. It more likely will end up fighting Israel.
Overall, here's how he describes our policies.
Having armed all sides of the conflict and kept them apart by the threat of arms, the United States now expects to depart leaving in place governments of national reconciliation that will persuade well-armed and well-organized militias to play by the rules. It is perhaps the silliest thing an imperial power ever has done. The British played at divide and conquer, whereas the Americans propose to divide and disappear. ... At some point the whole sorry structure will collapse, and no-one knows it better than Petraeus.
There's much more. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it is definitely interesting reading. I think his analysis is certainly valid as a worst-case scenario, and also as an argument about why we shouldn't be in too big of a hurry to withdraw. But shaky constructs don't always collapse. Sometimes they can be reinforced and turned into strong, lasting structures. I'm generally skeptical of predictions of doom in foreign policy, especially when presented as some sort of foregone conclusions. I'm also highly skeptical of Spengler's conspiracy theory-ish treatment of General Petraeus. But having said that, I still think the article is worth a look.

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