Alan Caruba
Our suicidal Middle East policies
By Alan Caruba
June 20, 2013

Take a look at the map of Afghanistan. It borders Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and a tiny eastern tip borders China. It exists in the worst neighborhood of nations on planet Earth.

A Reuters news story on June 18 reported that "Afghanistan will send a team for peace talks with the Taliban, President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday, as the U.S. and NATO coalition launched the final phase of the 12-year war with the last round of security transfers to Afghan forces." The next day, the Associated Press reported that "Afghanistan's president says he will not pursue peace talks with the Taliban unless the United States steps out of the negotiations and the militant group stops its violent attacks on the ground."

He made the initial announcement at an international coalition marked the beginning of the end of the handover of security to Afghan forces, attended by some 2,000, including the NATO Secretary-General, dozens of Western ambassadors, and senior Afghan and international officials.

Peace talks with the Taliban are about as useful as talking to the Iranians about their nuclear weapons program in an effort to get them to abandon it. In that region of the world, both Pakistan which shares a long border with Afghanistan and India have nuclear weapons, as does China and Israel. Both Syria and Iraq would have had them if the Israelis had not destroyed their nuclear reactors.

I have been writing about Afghanistan and the U.S. military engagement there since 2009. In November of that year I wrote that "The President is going to address the nation about his plans for Afghanistan and if ever there was an exercise in futility, this is it."

At the time, Obama had been referring to Afghanistan as a war of necessity, He already had plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq and, after they left, that nation turned into a battlefield again with endless bombings reflecting the Sunni-Shiite animosities that have existed from the earliest days of Islam. In 2011, while announcing a "surge" of U.S. forces into Afghanistan, he also announced that the U.S. was leaving. The Taliban were given notice that all they had to do was to wait.

In theory, the U.S. was going to train and equip the Afghani forces to defeat the Taliban, but I suggest now, as in 2009, this was an effort in futility. It is doubtful at best that the Karzai government ever had the support of the population and, indeed, the Taliban made sure it was aware of their presence by continually bombing various government buildings. The latest was on Tuesday in Kabul that targeted a senior member of the peace council.

The Taliban are a barbaric group who in early June beheaded a boy of ten and one aged 16 for "spying." They had been scavenging among the rubbish bins near the police headquarters in Kandahar and then accused of accepting food from the police in exchange for information. They have outraged even the Pakistanis for attempting to kill Malala Yousulfzar, a 14-year-old girl who publicly advocated education for girls, but she was just one victim among thousands of girls there and in Afghanistan whose schools have been shut down amidst efforts to poison some of them who were attending them.

The latest count of Afghan forces was a 352,000 who, in theory, will carry on the fight with the Taliban, but their allegiance to Kabul is questionable. They could conclude it isn't worth dying for and that a deal with the Taliban was preferable. That deal, as noted, will begin with the peace talks, presumably held while the bombings continue. Whether the members of the peace council will even escape such talks with their lives depends on holding the talks somewhere neutral.

Afghanistan, if you will recall, is where al Qaeda set up headquarters after participating in the war that drove out the Soviet troops that, in turn, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The U.S. had played an active, though covert, role in equipping al Qaeda forces and was rewarded for that with 9/11.

The same day of Karzai's initial announcement, Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East expert, was published on with an article titled "The Calm Before the Jihadi Storm," saying that "The same U.S. policies that helped create al Qaeda in the 1980s are today creating many al Qaedas in many Muslim countries, promising to deliver future terror strikes that will make 9/11 seem like child's play."

The problem with U.S. Middle East policies that Ibrahim identifies with clarity is that it has been based on "the short-sightedness of American policymakers whose policies are based on their brief tenure, not America's long term wellbeing." Presidents serve for four to eight years, members of Congress must stand for reelection every two to six years, in the House and the Senate.

Our wars in the Middle East have come to bad ends as Americans quite understandably grew weary of casualties and the wounded. Even the Roman Empire was brought to an end as the result of similar long and costly wars. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, it was bad news for Alexander the Great and later the British Empire.

The problem now, as Ibrahim points out, is that President Obama's policies have turned over much of the Middle East to al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Under the cover of the "Arab spring" and the illusion of democracy, as various populations overthrew their dictators, Obama threw our long-time Egyptian ally, Mubarak under the bus, then Libya's Gaddafi, and has dithered while Syria's dictator, Bashar Assad, has slaughtered an estimated 90,000 of his own people, supported by Iran and Russia. The poison gas arsenal was no doubt Iraq's former dictator, Saddam Hussein's, moved there to protect it when the U.S. invaded to depose him.

All of these former dictators had successful suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, the same forces seeking to overthrow Assad. They are now in the ascendency throughout the Middle East and across the northern tier of Africa known as the Maghreb. Ibrahim asks, "What price will America later pay now that it's betraying several major nations to the jihadis who are turning them into bases?"

"In short," says Ibrahim, "just as it was before 9/11, when the jihadi storm eventually does break out – and it will, it's a matter of time – those American politicians who helped empower it, chief among them Obama, will be long gone, and the talking heads will again be stupidly asking "what happened?' 'Who knew?' Why do they hate us?' Except then it will be too late."

They hate us because they are Muslims. The Middle East and the Maghreb was kept in check by a few dictators who knew who the enemy was. The ones taking power, especially in Egypt, hate us, but the U.S. continues to send Egypt billions and weapons. How idiotic and treacherous is that?

Meanwhile, Barack Hussein Obama is doing his best to reduce our nuclear arsenal and the size of our military. Could there be a connection here?

© Alan Caruba


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Alan Caruba

(Editor's note: Alan Caruba passed away on June 15, 2015. You can read his obituary here.)

Best known these days as a commentator on issues ranging from environmentalism to energy, immigration to Islam, Alan Caruba is the author of two recent books, "Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy" and "Warning Signs" -- both collections of his commentaries since 2000 and both published by Merril Press of Bellevue, Washington... (more)


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