We seem to have created quite a mess of the middle east. Beyond the literal disfigurement of Iraq, take a moment to survey the dead and dying remnants of our geopolitical interests in the region, not least typified by the staggering degree to which we have set ourselves back and pushed forward the interests of Iran. Read this from today’s Washington Post to get a sense of which way friendly Arab governments sense the wind blowing:
Kuwait rarely rebuffs its ally, the United States, partly out of gratitude for the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But in October it reneged on a pledge to send three military observers to an American-led naval exercise in the Gulf, according to U.S. officials and Kuwaiti analysts.
“We understood,” a State Department official said. “The Kuwaitis were being careful not to antagonize the Iranians.”
Four years after the United States invaded Iraq, in part to transform the Middle East, Iran is ascendant, many in the region view the Americans in retreat, and Arab countries, their own feelings of weakness accentuated, are awash in sharpening sectarian currents that many blame the United States for exacerbating.
Where is Iran’s regional competitor? Gone, hung by a Sadrist mob. Rather than shoring up its western front Iran now concerns itself with establishing banks and augmenting their already-strong relationship with the new leaders through guns and training. Whether or not those Iranian IEDs have any basis in reality it appears that Iran has every intention of filling the power vacuum when American troops leave. The alliance doesn’t even need to be clandestine or hidden like our administration alleges, just an out-in-the-open, chummy military partnership between friends. Israel willl no doubt be thrilled.
The sad part is the utter non-inevitability of all of this. No reason in the world compelled us to invade Iraq. Even then the Iranians made unambiguous efforts to normalize relations with the U.S., apparently in perfectly good faith (1, 2, 3), which the U.S. adamantly rejected. Why negotiate away, the thinking seems to have gone, what we can take by force? Except as it turns out, we don’t have a force anymore and our regional credibility is shot.
Brilliant minds. When you add it all together Iranian agents would have a hard time crafting a more favorable series of policies on our part. Maybe the saddest of all is watching a president who oversaw the dumbest foreign policy since Syracuse try to recover his past glory with still more brinksmanship.
As they say, if brute force isn’t working…