Monday, April 16, 2012
Laying Out a Proper MidEast Policy
What’s The Proper U.S. Middle East Policy? It’s Simple -Barry Rubin
Since there is so much bad policy on the Middle East to critique and since there’s no hope of the Obama Administration listening to alternative strategies, I usually focus on attacking bad policies rather than on suggesting better ones.
There is no great mystery, however, about what a good U.S. Middle East policy would look like.
The United States should take leadership. This is what its allies and dependents want and its enemies fear.
Identify the greatest threat today as revolutionary Islamism. Build a broad alliance with all those opposed to revolutionary Islamism. Of course, this list includes millions of non- and anti-Islamist Muslims:
Canada; European allies; Israel; and the remaining Arab governments that are relatively moderateon international affairs: Morocco; Algeria; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait; Bahrain; Oman; the United Arab Emirates; Iraq, South Sudan, and Jordan. Add to that the oppositions in Lebanon, Iran, and Turkey, and the truly moderate elements in Syria. Work with the real moderates and the army in Egypt (though these two are at loggerheads) and Turkey (whose army is being weakened perhaps the point of no return).
Plug in also with India, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and a number of other governments in Asia and Africa, too that face radical external and internal threats . China’s interests should be appealed to based on its desire for stability, need for secure sources of energy and supply routes, and concerns over its own Muslim minority becoming radicalized.
The goal is to keep revolutionary Islamists out of power wherever possible, as was done with Communists in the Cold War. Revolutionary Islamist states and movements should be subverted and weakened. The U.S. government should comprehend that terrorism is a tactic used sometimes by some revolutionary Islamist groups and not a movement in itself. Thus, the very real danger posed by al-Qaida of carrying out terrorist attacks is strategically less significant than the ability of Muslim Brotherhood and other groups of taking over entire countries and turning them against the United States.
The idea that apology, appeasement, or concessions will moderate Islamists should be abandoned. The idea that the West can somehow produce its own moderate brand of Islam or will be rescued by tiny groups of doctrinally moderate Muslims should be dropped.
The direct use of force should be limited to circumstances where it is unavoidable...
Democracy is a nice idea but ...the enemies of real functional democracy (rule of law; fair treatment of minorities, civil liberties) have caught on to the idea of using democratic forms to impose majority-backed dictatorships.
Have no illusion that there is going to be progress on Arab-Israeli or Israel-Palestinian issues. You can keep up a pretense of diplomatic activity but don’t let that get in the way of real priorities. The Palestinian side’s leadership has rejected a two-state solution repeatedly and has no desire for a final end to the conflict.
Most important of all do not empower America’s enemies. Not only al-Qaida but also the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, and Syria are foes. The Turkish regime is a more subtle and insidious enemy. Pakistan cannot be trusted and there is no sense pumping billions of dollars into that regime.