Friday, April 17, 2015

Just Say No: to the Entire Middle East

Yes, the Iran deal is a huge accomplishment and should be an irrefutable proof that diplomacy works and war doesn't.

But the truth is that peace is not indigenous to the Middle East and has never thrived there. Even if our own repugs were not slavering for more permanent war.


Disengagement should now be our policy with both Israel and the Arab world. We Americans should urge our government to end all arms sales to any Arab nation ruled by a general, dictator or king. We need to isolate and diplomatically contain any Arab regime that has demonstrably killed unarmed protesters, as in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. We should also close our military installations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.
Such a dramatic, categorical and evenhanded withdrawal of American arms and treasure would deal a bracing shock to the region’s ruling elites. But it would be a good and decent thing for all concerned. The so-called experts, our TV talking heads, will be quick to object that such a withdrawal would only open the gates to the barbaric head-choppers. These experts are wrong: the Salafist nihilists operating under the black flag of a farcical caliphate have bitter enemies all around them. They have no real future in the twenty-first century. And in any case, these sectarian wars are not ours—and our government has no business sacrificing young American men and women in such an ephemeral mission.
The experts will call disengagement quixotic. They will speak in Kissingeresque bass tones about America’s “strategic” interests in Arabian oil. But I don’t care about oil, a fungible commodity that will be sold in any event on the global market by any regime that controls such carbon resources—especially since, given our climate peril, we should be focusing on renewable and sustainable energy. And I don’t care about the “strategic” consequences: they cannot be worse than the Middle East we have mismanaged.
We Americans must have a lower profile in the Middle East. Of course we can provide humanitarian assistance. But the Arabs are weary of our shallow promises of security and democracy, and all our flaccid diplomatic efforts to sustain the “peace process” in reality seem only to sustain a dead-end status quo. Enough.

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