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U.S. Middle East Policy - A Road to Disaster

By       Message Dan Lieberman     Permalink
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Isn't it time for the United States' State department to prevent additional United States foreign policy debacles? Look at the record. From Vietnam to Angola to Nicaragua, Somalia and on to Iraq and Afghanistan, United States foreign policies degraded into military interventions and proved counterproductive; accomplishing the very results the policies were formulated to prevent. Regimes, which the U.S. intended to replace either became strengthened (Vietnam, Angola), returned in almost equal form (Nicaragua), evolved to a more antagonistic form (Somalia), or remained unresolved (Afghanistan, Iraq). With a trajectory similar to previous, U.S. policies towards the larger Middle East will achieve similar counterproductive results. U.S. policies are on a road to disaster for Middle East nations and the American people. A new road, which averts disaster, can be conveniently chosen.

Although President Barack Obama did not consider Middle East policies in his remarks, he bravely spoke of the reason for U.S. policy makers to act improperly; "Every day is election day in Washington, D.C." Congressmen approve policies that enable them to be elected by the American people rather than approving policies that advance the American agenda. Representatives support the special interests and lobby groups who furnish them with the funds and publicity that guarantee elections. Similar to fans who overrate film stars, many citizens associate publicity with accomplishment and carelessly re-elect legislators who satisfy their subjective wants but blind them to their objective needs.

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Zero in on U.S. interests in the Middle East and we find them primarily confined to assuring sufficient oil supply and combating terrorism from extreme Islamic groups. Research the status of the policies for protecting these interests and we learn of growing failure, misaligned perspectives, and more foreign policy debacles that will prove counterproductive.

The U.S. was the largest importer of Iraqi oil under the UN Oil-for-Food program and the principal recipient of Saudi oil for decades. From having almost a monopoly on Middle East oil production, the U.S. oil industry now receives a diminishing percentage. Reuters, BAGHDAD, Dec 13, 2009 reports there has been no boon for U.S. firms in Iraq oil deal auction.

"Critics said the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was driven by oil, but United States oil majors were largely absent from an Iraqi auction of oil deals snapped up instead by Russian, Chinese and other firms."

FX reports that China has probably taken over the US' status as the world's largest oil consumer.

"Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil producer, said it is exporting about 1M bpd of crude to China, more than to the US. The CEO, Khalid al-Faith, said the company will focus on China in coming years."

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Failure to reduce dependence on Middle East oil has propelled the U.S. into interference in Middle East nations. Misadventures have caused conflagrations, destruction, armed conflicts and immense numbers of local casualties. The same misadventures and its immense number of local casualties have generated terrorism. How else can the terrorism be explained? After all, China, Japan and a host of other nations who have dealings with Middle East oil producers have not encountered international terrorism. U.S. unwarranted support for the Mujahideen during the Soviet/Afghan war led to Taliban control of Afghanistan and installation of al-Qaeda training camps within the extremist Islamic nation. The severe confrontations between the Sunni civilian population and U.S. troops after the invasion of Iraq propelled foreign militants to Iraq.

If combating terrorism and Radical Islam are the principal objectives of U.S. foreign policy then modifying the nature of nations who incite terrorism will be helpful. Until now, the U.S. has refused to properly engage Saudi Arabia and Israel (two antagonists), both of whom suffer from terrorism, but have internal policies that promote international terrorism and Radical Islam.

U.S. support for the repressive Saudi regime has assisted Saudi's royal family to exerecise rigid political control and self-serving economic policies. The latter has aroused severe resentment from radicalized Muslims who suspect the U.S. support maintains Saudi power. All American administrations have ignored that Saudi Wahabbism and Sharia law, the most fundamentalist aspects of the Muslim religion, have developed an extreme ideology in Muslim youth. Let us recall that most of the 9/11 conspirators were Saudi and many of the al-Qaeda in Iraq militants proceeded from Saudi Arabia. Imagine if they originated from Syria? Would Syria even exist today?

U.S. support for Israel's expansionist policies and its oppression of the Palestinian people has provoked Radical Islamic groups. Intention to incorporate all of Jerusalem into its territory has added fuel to fire. Although Israel receives funds, weapons and political support from the U.S., the generosity is rarely returned. Israel proceeds with disputed settlements, seizing of Palestinian lands, constant violent actions across its borders and provocative policies regardless of the wants and effects on its benefactor.

Despite years of a war on terrorism, terrorist actions and elements around the globe have grown.

On the other hand, for no decisive reason, the U.S. has strained relations with several nations who can be helpful in pacifying the Middle East. In these situations, the U.S. should re-evaluate its policies.

U.S. administrations consider Syria as an enemy, but why? The Syrians must answer to its repressive attitude, and its relations with states and groups which the U.S. determines undesirable. Nevertheless, these negative characteristics are not unique. China, Egypt and several other nations with whom the U.S. has close relations share similar attributes.

The U.S. can resolve its differences and clarifying its relations with Syria by understanding Syria's position. Isn't it natural for Syria to act hesitatingly with a nation who defends Israel, which has apprehended the Golan Heights? Why would Syria welcome U.S. troops at its borders after the invasion of Iraq? The U.S. exaggerates Syria's obstinate policies and does not credit Syria with its helpful policies.

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After Syrian President Bashar al-Asad denounced the 9/11 attacks, FBI agents traveled to Syria in 2002 and investigated al-Qaeda activists who had been in Syria or had maintained ties with Syrian citizens. Senior American officials were quoted as saying that the information provided by Syria helped prevent attacks on American targets in the Gulf and saved many American lives.

Syria's most meaningful assistance to the world community and to the United States is its operation as a safety valve for refugee displacements. Syria has housed several hundreds of thousand Palestinian refugees for decades and granted them almost full rights. It has hosted two million Iraq refugees. What would have happened if Syria refused entry to these refugees?

Responding to U.S. and UN demands, Syria has removed its troops and authorities from Lebanon. Has Israel responded to UN requests to leave the West Bank? Unlike Israel, who bombed the U.S. ship USS liberty during the 1967 war, has denied entry to and imprisoned many U.S. citizens, and been complicit in the deaths of several Americans, the Syrian regime has never harmed any American. Doesn't responsive to UN dictates and behavior to American citizens count in the formulation of foreign policy?

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Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. His website articles have been read in more than 150 nations, while articles written for other websites have appeared in online journals throughout the world(B 92, (more...)

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