Economic suffocation or total war
It is time to end the charade of politics being played out in the Middle East. In my 56 years on this planet, there has yet to be true peace in the region where political, religious and ethnic respect have been promoted. Regional wars, oil embargoes, and the growth of terrorism have dragged the United States into far too many wars, international crisis and concern for our own well being. It is time for this to end.
The problem is leaders in this country, both past and present, have failed to clearly lay out our real options when dealing with problems in the Middle East. By continually being dragged into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, allowing powers like Saudi Arabia to dictate oil prices while doing nothing in return to policing the region, or by failing to rid ourselves of our dependency on the region’s oil, the United States is as much to blame as anyone for the current unrest in the Middle East.
Diplomacy has failed to accomplish anything of significance. When called to step in with our military, we are unable to secure any real regional support from nations like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or Qatar when trying to build a coalition. These nations would clearly prefer to stay out of the unrest found in places like Iraq, Syria, or Libya because they know if they get involved and support our efforts they will become the next targets of Islamic Jihadists. Instead, they sit in their palaces and watch while we rely on countries like England, France, and Australia for support.
Our diplomatic goals have relied far too heavily on keeping the flow of oil coming to our country which ends up benefiting major oil companies more than the average American. Furthermore, we have refused to wean ourselves from our Middle Eastern addiction, which if done, would allow the money we spend on military efforts abroad to be used toward developing cheaper and abundant energy sources at home.
Where has this gotten us? Our “Redneck” mentality of using our military to topple Saddam Hussein resulted in greater political turmoil in Iraq while allowing for the rise of ISIS, the most barbaric and militarily challenging terrorist group our country has faced. And now that our president has stated he does not want to see American boots on the ground as part of the process of destroying ISIS, the situation there has been greatly complicated.
While our nation is rightly tired of the years of post 9/11 war, and since Congress is facing mid term elections in two months, we seem to be dragging our feet while the Middle East grows increasingly unstable.
It is time to rethink our strategy in the Middle East and to start calling out our real enemies. While ISIS has made it clear they are our enemy, so are the filthy rich leaders of do nothing nations in the region. When nations like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, and others refuse to do their part to keep peace in the region, they must be viewed as our enemy as well. If they are not an active part of the solution then they are part of the problem. It is not simply enough to be assured by them they will not hide, train, or finance terrorist groups inside their borders. It is time for these leaders to step up and place their boots on the soil of Iraq, Syria, and Libya and rid the region of its extremism.
Failure, or refusal, on their part needs to result in cutting them off from our military sales, which are only used to keep their citizens from rising up against their poor leadership. It also means requiring our oil companies to pull out of the region, destroying the infrastructure we have put into place, and severing all business ties to the region. It should result in a blockade of the Suez Canal and major ports making it impossible for these oil rich nations to export petroleum anywhere in the world.
If this does not end the do nothing approach of oil rich leaders, then we are left with two simple choices, each of which require a great sacrifice on all our part. The first will be to continue suffocating the region economically and sit back and watch their cannibalistic leaders devour one another while they lay the region ruined before then stepping in to clean up the mess. However, this will result in drastically higher fuel prices at home. We can also expect to see more Islamic meddling toward Israel along with much greater Middle Eastern state support for terrorist groups who want to see our demise.
The second option would call for us to step in and use our military in a way the world has never seen and reassert our domination in the process. It is pointless to continue to fight costly wars aimed at destroying an enemy while trying not to punish the innocent. Wars like this have little long term benefit and at best only serve as a costly band aide. The wounds inevitably get re-infected and require greater and more costly measures on our part. Unless we are willing to cut off an arm or a leg, we will continue to be dragged into one costly and pointless war after another with nothing to show for it.
To have a great military like ours at our disposal and not to fully use it in a decisive manner is no different than not having a great military. Rather than trying to bomb specific sites with minimal fallout, we should consider leveling entire cities. We cannot concern ourselves with who gets killed because all too often the survivors resent us for being there and end up working against us in the peace building process.
Does this mean using nuclear weapons? I would hope not. However, we have plenty of other weapons in our arsenal at our disposal and I think it is time we consider using them rather than past methods, which have failed.
There is no such thing as a humane war so if we are going to rely on war as a solution to the problems in the Middle East, we owe it to our citizens to do what we can to make it the last war in the region. If our future is at stake, then we cannot concern ourselves with the loss of life in the Middle East as a result of war. This may seem hawkish but in reality it is just facing the truth. Wars should only be fought to ensure long lasting peace and not to just buy more time before something worse happens. Do we really want to continue with our band aide approach and see an enemy worse than ISIS down the road?
My guess is, Millennials are better prepared to handle the economic hardship of a Middle East boycott. They are more willing to do away with our oil dependency and question why our government does not do more toward developing cleaner energy sources. Public transportation is no big deal since many have been left with so much debt they cannot afford to buy a car. They have no desire to continue to fight wars that yield nothing of significance in their eyes and all too often prevents them from getting a head start into the work force. They do not understand the concept of military sacrifice because too many have not been taught about the sacrifices made by those who fought in wars like World War II.
On the other hand, the old guard, baby boomers, of which I am one, are less likely to want to pay the much higher bills at the gas pump that would come from an economic boycott. We remember the gas lines of the 70’s and do not want a repeat of having to remember whether or not it is an odd or even day to fill up at the pump. We like our cars and are not interested in relying on public transportation to get around.
Many, myself included, never had to serve in the military. We also lack a true understanding of what war is like and only know wars like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan which cannot be viewed as major successes. Besides, we are more concerned about our financial portfolios and whether or not we will have enough money to enjoy retirement.
The big challenge will be convincing both groups to cease the problem solving methods we have been using for decades and to come together in a comprehensive agreement and demand our leaders approach the Middle East in a different and unified way. While the problems in the Middle East are often portrayed as cultural, here, in the United States, they are more generational. One thing both young and old can agree on is what we have been doing for the last half century has not worked.
Perhaps when the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia sees what total economic or military defeat will do to them, they might be convinced to wake up and actively join our fight for regional stability if for nothing more than their own self preservation. However, that will not happen until we at home are willing to be bothered by either economic hardship or the idea of seeing just how much damage our military can do to bring an end to what takes place in the Middle East.
If we are tired of war and no longer want to see American boots on the ground then we have to decide between economically suffocating the oil rich Middle East, which will cause us our own economic hardships, or a radically different military solution. If it is a military course, then it needs to result in the full use of our military might. We have to disregard the desires of oil rich leaders who have refused to help us bring stability to the region and if necessary, result in the rebuilding of a new Middle East, much like we did with post World War II Europe.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.