Thursday, March 26, 2015

Less BushObama, more Cardinal Richelieu

The BushObama Project for a Better Middle East is a Failure

We knew it all along: Absent a brutal non-sectarian dictatorship, Iraq is not a viable nation.

Baghdad and Southern Iraq are now de facto "part of a greater Iran."

Iranian and Iraqi Shia forces liberated the southern region of Sunni Tikrit from ISIS, but then went on a looting spree.

Meanwhile, we are providing intel and air support for Iranian Forces.

Add to this the confusing mish-mash of wanting Assad (an ally of Iran and Russia) gone, while also wanting to defeat the Islamists arrayed against him; wanting Iraq to succeed, even as it falls into the arms of Iranian Shia terror-masters. Kurds, Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood, Shia, Sunnis, etc...

Toward a More Rational Middle East Policy

Into the fray steps Greg R. Lawson. As Mr Burns would say to Mr. Smithers in a Simpson's episode, "I don't know who this Lawson fellow is, but I like the cut of his jib."

Lawson believes our Middle East strategery, such as it is, is all wrong and must be overhauled, with copious cribbing from the very Machiavellian Cardinal Richelieu of France.   All quotes are from his essay, Divide and Conquer: Richelieu's Playbook for the Middle East.

His nuance-over-brute-force approach should appeal to libs and cons alike:
"Richelieu understood this in the geopolitical context of his day and thus he is understood to have defended his nation’s national interests effectively. Ultimately, this is what a statesman does rather than pander to transient, emotional, and often misguided, public opinion. It is well past time for the United States to reconsider its entire approach to the Middle East. It is time to look at our core national interests and take actions in accordance with them, rather engage in dangerous illusions that the present tragedy in the Middle East can some how be avoided if only we show leadership."
The cornerstone of Lawson's model is the Red Eminence's divide and conquer strategy that guided a weakened and outnumbered France through the 30 Years War:
"If the Middle East is actually involved in a generational conflict that is, at least somewhat analogously, like the Thirty Years' War, what role, if any, should the United States play?"
Three Stipulations

First, he concludes that there is no immediate hegemonic threat to the region. Yes, China is ascendent, Russia is an influential player, and Iran is a regional powerhouse with influence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, but no nation or group is positioned to make an immediate move.

Second, he stipulates that oil is no longer the factor it once was. The US is not energy independent, but we are energy secure enough to no longer fear an oil embargo from the Middle East.

Finally, what about "fighting terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here?"

Fight Smarter, not Harder
"Cleavages exist and should be exploited. Further direct American intervention allows these competing factions to paper over their differences and temporarily align in order to fight off the “Crusaders.”

"The Middle East is burning literally and figuratively. It is difficult to envision how this situation would end without the scarring or outright destruction of a whole generation. Large scale, direct Western actions to ameliorate this inherently tragic situation are not likely to work. Rather, they place our interests at risk in the midst of another civilization’s civil war."
So how do we go after the bad guys?
"Make no mistake, a dovish or isolationist response is naïve. engagement, fighting in the shadows, and using naturally embedded conflicts between our enemies makes far more sense than headfirst assaults."
All I can add is, Amen. Can we elect this guy secretary of state, or force the next president to hire him?

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