Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Iran Deal and the Future of the Middle East

Abraham H. Miller

Critics of President Barack Obama's Middle East policy should begin with a new set of premises:  Obama is not stupid.  No one believes Iran will dismantle its nuclear program.

Of course, the Iran agreement will not work.  But that's the idea.  No one really expects it to work. 

In politics, when you can't control outcomes but you need to extricate yourself from the situation, you create charades, rituals, and symbolic victories totally absent of reality. 

In the Cuban Missile Crisis, we did not go eyeball to eyeball with the Russians and they blinked.  The Russians gave up Cuba, and we gave up Jupiter Bases in Greece and Turkey. Only in an American television series do the Russians blink.

Nixon and Kissinger brought you peace in Vietnam -- by leaving hundreds of thousands of battle hardened North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam who then did what they were expected to do.  They continued fighting until the South Vietnamese government fell.  What did you think they were going to do?

Did anyone really believe North Korea was going to suspend its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and bringing food to its starving people?

Obama after numerous stumbles, misadventures, and the puerile embrace of the Arab Spring finally understands the Middle East.  We are less likely to create stable democracy there than in Germany after the Great War. 

The only thing that can be done about the Middle East is what Nixon did in Vietnam -- declare victory and leave.  Obama is leaving the Middle East.  He is engaged in as elaborate ritual as Nixon and Kissinger produced with the Paris Peace Talks.  The sycophantic media is already calling the deal with Iran historic. 

Of course, Iran is going to get nuclear weapons. Do you have any doubt that the people who lied about the nuclear facility at Fordo and concealed their weapons program will not build nuclear weapons?

America cannot stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  We can only slow it down.  Time is on the side of the Iranians. This administration does not have the political will to stop Iran.  The American people are tired of war.  Iranian nuclear weapons are a threat to Israel and the sheikdoms of the Gulf, but they are not a threat to America.

The entire Middle East is being written off.  We have been involved in the Middle East like an ill-bred house guest who has stayed too long. It is time to pack our bags.

And Americans should cheer.  Whether Obama has made this decision by design or by stumbling into it, for America, at this moment in history, it is the right decision.  Pax Americana is ending.  We no longer need the Middle East, and they no longer need us, except to continue to suck our blood and treasure. 

There is one strategic reason for being in the Middle East: oil.  But with major strikes in North Dakota, Texas, and now Australia, the Middle East is losing its importance.  In any event, as Iran's dismal economy shows, the producers of oil cannot run an economy without being able to sell oil.  In business, buyers need sellers and sellers need buyers, and the way oil is coming online there is going to be a lot more oil in the market. We don't need to meddle in the internal politics of the Middle East in order to have access to its energy.

Japan's economic prosperity, achieved in the post-war years by selling consumer goods, more than rivaled the economic benefits its imperialistic military sought in World War II, without the barbarism, bloodshed, and nuclear devastation. Business itself presents options for economic cooperation far more meaningful than any form of imperialism, military or dependency.  

The pundits are predicting chaos and bloodshed in a Middle East absent America, as if that was not already happening.  American blood and treasure will not stop the Sunnis and Shi'ias from killing each other.  We will not get the Muslims to love the Jews and the Christians. We cannot stop the grandiose designs of Islamic fundamentalism or the hegemonic designs of the new Ottomans.  We cannot stop the devolution of Syria and Iraq.  The Afghans know we are leaving and thumb their noses at us.  And except for the pleasure of bashing Israel at the United Nations, not one Arab country cares about the Palestinians.  Most will not give Palestinians citizenship.  The Arab countries have their own problems.  The Palestinians are barely a sideshow. 

If you are worried about the Russians, do not be.  I have always believed Russia needed a hundred Cubas.  In the Middle East she will begin to find their equivalent.

There will be exacerbated chaos and greater impoverishment. Middle East refugees will flood Europe.  The Europeans deserve each and every one of them. 

Educated and professional classes in Europe will flee to the English-speaking world across the oceans.  With some modest modifications in immigration law, the English-speaking world will inherit this talent.  Europe, with its inability to reproduce itself and its discomfort in standing up for its own culture, is a failing society.  Europe is dying.  It is just that the formal obituary has not yet been written.  Marseille, where French is a second language, is the future of Europe.

And Israel?  Israel will benefit from America's departure.  Israel's problem is that she does not have the industrial complex to produce the large weapons systems needed for her protection.  But our military industrial complex will still need Israel as a market.  And the quiet alliances shaping up between Israel and the Sunni sheikdoms are mutually beneficial exchanges of Israeli protection for material resources.  With America gone, the Israelis and the Gulf sheikdoms will discover a marriage of convenience against an Iranian threat, one that is acceptable to America but not to the Gulf States and the Israelis. With America out of the picture, the people of the Middle East will be forced to think in creative terms to solve their own problems. These will no longer be our problems.

Page Printed from: at November 27, 2013 - 10:49:44 PM CST

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