This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

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This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Delenda Est » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:40 pm

From Foreign Policy magazine:
How the Trump administration responds will indicate whether U.S. elites still consider energy resources a core national interest and whether the United States truly is on its way out of the Middle East entirely, as so many in the region suspect.

Policymakers in Washington have long been obliged to make peace with their country’s strategic relations with generals, kings, and presidents who abuse their own people, make a mockery of values American hold dear, and demand that the United States provide them with security—all because of oil.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/09/17/th ... ddle-east/

It's time for us to drop (kick) the Saudis. We don't need their energy, we don't need the moral compromise required to keep this noxious regime as a client-state, we don't need the legion of security-liabilities that our constant military presence in the ME (to defend this fundamentally Anti-American regime) exposes us to. It's time for us to get out of the Middle East - entirely.



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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by LivingRock » Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:43 pm

At this point, if the U.S. and the Saudis can agree that maintaining economic pressure on Iran is the proper response I think we should take that given the alternatives. Trump doesn't want open conflict, the Saudis don't want open conflict, and Iran's little outbursts have been relatively minimal to this point. The best outcome right now given the circumstances is that uneasy status quo remains without too much further escalation. Abandoning the Saudis outright would greatly increase the odds escalation in the conflict between the Saudis and Iran which is very clearly not in America's interests. So proposing doing so seems reckless right now.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by GuideToACrazyWorld » Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:47 pm

Delenda Est wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:40 pm
It's time for us to get out of the Middle East - entirely.
We are so entangled in the middle east that is easier said then done. Not to say that I disagree. It just isn't the matter of flipping a switch.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Deleted User 54 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:57 pm

The middle east is a tinder box waiting for a disastrous spark to set it off. I've only done minor research into the history and culture of that area and it makes my head explode. I would love to support an isolationist stance with pulling out of the ME and letting them fight it out, but then I'm scared of the monster that will emerge. I don't think there is any good answer to how to respond to current events, so an uneasy status quo might be the best thing for now.

Side note, I think Trump is fighting too many battles on different fronts. He needs to focus and get something done. Chine, Russia, North Korea, EU, North America.... pick one and put all his effort into it.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Delenda Est » Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:59 pm

GuideToACrazyWorld wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:47 pm
Delenda Est wrote:
Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:40 pm
It's time for us to get out of the Middle East - entirely.
We are so entangled in the middle east that is easier said then done. Not to say that I disagree. It just isn't the matter of flipping a switch.
Very true, same goes for our other major commitments, in East Asia, that I would prefer we quit.

Irony of ironies, however, is that the Trump Admin. has, by kicking over the table on the erstwhile "Washington Consensus," given his successor an opening to re-set the table with a reorientation of our priorities... If we were shrewd enough to take advantage of the opportunity - which I very much doubt we are. We are caught in history's whirlpool, and it's going to take us straight into the deep.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Delenda Est » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:12 pm

Arphaxad wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:57 pm
I would love to support an isolationist stance with pulling out of the ME and letting them fight it out, but then I'm scared of the monster that will emerge.
We also need to think about the costs of our continued involvement. We made a long-standing, direct attempt to control the "monster," and we only made things worse. Our relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia are two big hostages to fortune - both states would love it if we fought a proxy war against Iran for them. Israel is reverting to the corrupt status quo of ME politics, with creeping religious authoritarianism under Netanyahu and the Likud. No one there is interested in peace, only domination. We need to leave and let the Russians and the Chinese fight over that misbegotten region. Just because it matters to them doesn't mean it's actually important for us.

As for the threat of terrorism that the region poses, well I say we've let ourselves obsess about that quite long enough. Part of the reason that the people engage in terror attacks against us is that we're meddling in their affairs in the first place; if we simply pack up and leave they'll turn their attention to killing one another. Let them focus on terrorist attacks against the Chinese, when the Chinese try to run the place.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Deleted User 54 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:19 pm

Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:12 pm
if we simply pack up and leave they'll turn their attention to killing one another.
I don't think that would be the outcome. Are you willing to risk escalated terror attacks on US soil if you are wrong?

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Delenda Est » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:24 pm

LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:43 pm
Abandoning the Saudis outright would greatly increase the odds escalation in the conflict between the Saudis and Iran which is very clearly not in America's interests. So proposing doing so seems reckless right now.
Eh, there's abandoning and there's abandoning. Foreign-policy inertia means that "flipping a switch" on our involvment is a practical impossibility. So any realistic 'abandoning' of the region is going to take a space of years. So next you'll argue that we can't do that either, because it's "reckless" - the net result being that we are mired in the politics of that dysfunctional region for ever. Well, No Thank You.

Iran poses a threat to the region, but not to us. I see no reason whatsoever that we would entertain going to war against them. They may eventually get the Bomb, but they were not the first to engage in nuclear proliferation in the region, they probably won't be the last, and stopping their program is not worth a war. Again, the stability of that region matters more to the Chinese than us - we need to leave to them the thankless task of trying to manage it.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by LivingRock » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm

Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:24 pm
LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:43 pm
Abandoning the Saudis outright would greatly increase the odds escalation in the conflict between the Saudis and Iran which is very clearly not in America's interests. So proposing doing so seems reckless right now.
Eh, there's abandoning and there's abandoning. Foreign-policy inertia means that "flipping a switch" on our involvment is a practical impossibility. So any realistic 'abandoning' of the region is going to take a space of years. So next you'll argue that we can't do that either, because it's "reckless" - the net result being that we are mired in the politics of that dysfunctional region for ever. Well, No Thank You.
Is that a strawman that I will at some point in the future deploy a slippery slope argument? ;) Anywho...We can have a long term foreign policy strategy to minimize our unwanted involvement in the Middle East if desired. But as long as America has the interests in the region, and as the geopolitical situation the U.S. doesn't always control dictates, a strong yet proportional to the demands relationship with the Saudis is still a good idea. That's not a slippery slope. If in the future be it switch-flippy-fast (not likely), two years from now or 20 years from now, the dynamics change in terms of decreased interests, then we can proportionally change our policy to less involvement as it dictates.
Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:24 pm
Iran poses a threat to the region, but not to us. I see no reason whatsoever that we would entertain going to war against them. They may eventually get the Bomb, but they were not the first to engage in nuclear proliferation in the region, they probably won't be the last, and stopping their program is not worth a war. Again, the stability of that region matters more to the Chinese than us - we need to leave to them the thankless task of trying to manage it.
The Saudis, as the oil market’s swing producer, remains as important to the global security and economic commons as ever. The oil market is internationally integrated in U.S. dollars, so, despite U.S. energy self-sufficiency, the price of oil is still beholden to global supply-and-demand. Unless you are into thinking America could be it's own little isolated place in the world economically and could care less about the U.S. supply of global security goods, this still matters enormously for U.S. foreign policy. Iran and China (along with Russia) would love nothing more to gain more power in the region to completely undermine that dynamic. That would ultimately make America a much less secure and prosperous place.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by GuideToACrazyWorld » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:55 pm

LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
But as long as America has the interests in the region, and as the geopolitical situation the U.S. doesn't always control dictates, a strong yet proportional to the demands relationship with the Saudis is still a good idea.
I would say in that case it wouldn't just be a good idea, but would be vital. That being said what Delenda is talking about here is moving away from our interests in the middle east entirely

LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
The Saudis, as the oil market’s swing producer, remains as important to the global security and economic commons as ever.
.


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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by LivingRock » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:04 pm

GuideToACrazyWorld wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:55 pm
That being said what Delenda is talking about here is moving away from our interests in the middle east entirely
Until the Middle East geological energy supply doesn't matter, that debate strikes me as fairly academic.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by GuideToACrazyWorld » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:46 pm

LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:04 pm
Until the Middle East geological energy supply doesn't matter, that debate strikes me as fairly academic.
It's entirely academic. Although, we could make it so the Middle East's oil supply does not matter to us.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Delenda Est » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:00 pm

LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
Is that a strawman that I will at some point in the future deploy a slippery slope argument? ;)
Haha... :D
LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
Anywho...We can have a long term foreign policy strategy to minimize our unwanted involvement in the Middle East if desired...
But as long as America has the interests in the region, and as the geopolitical situation the U.S. doesn't always control dictates, a strong yet proportional to the demands relationship with the Saudis is still a good idea. That's not a slippery slope.
Our relationship with that region is driven too much by inertia, instead of the national interest. And I doubt that we can maintain such a "strong yet proportional" patron-client relationship with the Saudis. This is true of our relationships with our client-states in general: our role as patron in the end obligates us to serve them much more than they are in fact serving us.

Further, regarding the kingdom, Saudi society may be ripe in the not-too-distant future for an Islamic Revolution; at which time our longstanding relationship with the royal family will become a distinct liability (instead of decamping on our own terms, our forces might actually have to fight their way out).

LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
The Saudis, as the oil market’s swing producer, remains as important to the global security and economic commons as ever. The oil market is internationally integrated in U.S. dollars, so, despite U.S. energy self-sufficiency, the price of oil is still beholden to global supply-and-demand. Unless you are into thinking America could be it's own little isolated place in the world economically and could care less about the U.S. supply of global security goods, this still matters enormously for U.S. foreign policy.

I just think it's folly for the United States to have its foreign policy in the region dictated by a power to whom we are not in any way beholden, but "the system" is. We are draining the treasury paying for our role as the global security force of first resort, allowing other countries who are more invested in this region than we are to free ride on us. Your view here is a prescription for that never changing. If it is ever going to change, it's going to have to be through some strategic forcing.

Part of our constant error about "making the world safe for democracy" is the view that somehow other countries are not able to recognize and act on their own interest; that without us to keep people in their corners, global economy-destabilizing war is going to break out. I figure that if those wars are coming, US meddling is not going to prevent it; and if those wars are coming, it is in the best interest of the US to not be around when they break out. As for how a prospective war in the ME would affect the global economy, I am not so concerned. The world in fact is awash in oil, and there shouldn't be much problem for other regions to pick up the slack. In the meantime a supply-shock would serve as a salutary reminder that globally we need to kick the dirty-energy habit, and indeed provide people with concrete, real-time incentives for doing so.

LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
Iran and China (along with Russia) would love nothing more to gain more power in the region to completely undermine that dynamic. That would ultimately make America a much less secure and prosperous place.
China's interest in the region is obvious, but beyond Russia's base in Syria I don't see Russia's interest. Beyond, perhaps, limiting the growth of Chinese influence. Russia is a bad actor generally, veering indeed towards being a pariah-state, but I doubt they'd have an interest in stirring up chaos in a ME where the Americans are basically absent. They might want to create trouble there for the Chinese, of course - and this would be against US interests, how?

Never mind of course how climate change is going to make the whole region virtually unihabitable, a half-century from now. We have exactly zero interest in hanging around, and it's time for us to snap out of it and stop making excuses for our inertia.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by LivingRock » Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:58 pm

Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:00 pm
Our relationship with that region is driven too much by inertia, instead of the national interest. And I doubt that we can maintain such a "strong yet proportional" patron-client relationship with the Saudis. This is true of our relationships with our client-states in general: our role as patron in the end obligates us to serve them much more than they are in fact serving us.

Free flow of energy resources isn't "inertia", it's as important as it ever was. If you do not think it is, I'd like to here why. My explanation here:
Further, regarding the kingdom, Saudi society may be ripe in the not-too-distant future for an Islamic Revolution; at which time our longstanding relationship with the royal family will become a distinct liability (instead of decamping on our own terms, our forces might actually have to fight their way out).
Free flow of energy resources and a common enemy in Iran cannot be simply passed off as "inertia". I'd be curious to see a direct response to this...
LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
The Saudis, as the oil market’s swing producer, remains as important to the global security and economic commons as ever. The oil market is internationally integrated in U.S. dollars, so, despite U.S. energy self-sufficiency, the price of oil is still beholden to global supply-and-demand. Unless you are into thinking America could be it's own little isolated place in the world economically and could care less about the U.S. supply of global security goods, this still matters enormously for U.S. foreign policy... Iran and China (along with Russia) would love nothing more to gain more power in the region to completely undermine that dynamic. That would ultimately make America a much less secure and prosperous place.
Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:00 pm
I just think it's folly for the United States to have its foreign policy in the region dictated by a power to whom we are not in any way beholden, but "the system" is. We are draining the treasury paying for our role as the global security force of first resort, allowing other countries who are more invested in this region than we are to free ride on us. Your view here is a prescription for that never changing. If it is ever going to change, it's going to have to be through some strategic forcing.
The world operates as a "system". It's a group of interacting and interrelated entities (countries and the economic, geographical, cultural, etc. aspects) that the United States does not completely control to the form unified whole world. With that reality a strategy is required that may lead to some very imperfect and even somewhat unsavory but entirely necessary diplomatic relationships and alliances. To simply not beholden the country to that system is a fantasy and completely irresponsible.

And we are not "draining the treasury" to protect our interest abroad. I'd have to see financial evidence of that.
Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:00 pm
Part of our constant error about "making the world safe for democracy" is the view that somehow other countries are not able to recognize and act on their own interest; that without us to keep people in their corners, global economy-destabilizing war is going to break out. I figure that if those wars are coming, US meddling is not going to prevent it; and if those wars are coming, it is in the best interest of the US to not be around when they break out. As for how a prospective war in the ME would affect the global economy, I am not so concerned.
With the Saudis there is no illusion that they are anywhere near democracy, that is not the goal of our foreign policy relationship with them. Further, resorting to fatalism that a future conflicts if and when they breakout are going to be big and bad as an excuse for retrenchment and inaction is not a policy I'm a fan of, personally.
Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:00 pm
The world in fact is awash in oil, and there shouldn't be much problem for other regions to pick up the slack. In the meantime a supply-shock would serve as a salutary reminder that globally we need to kick the dirty-energy habit, and indeed provide people with concrete, real-time incentives for doing so.
That it is (Peak Oil? Oops, I digress...). Again, this is completely fatalistic, that some regional conflict and oil supply-shock is somehow is inevitable would somehow be good. With a sound and engaged foreign policy, we can work to try and prevent these undesirable things. Additionally, it turns out much of the global supply that could "pick up the slack" of fossil fuel is controlled by Iran and Russia. Hint: They don't like us. More power to them over that resource control is bad for the United States.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by LivingRock » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:00 pm

Delenda Est wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:00 pm
Never mind of course how climate change is going to make the whole region virtually unihabitable, a half-century from now. We have exactly zero interest in hanging around, and it's time for us to snap out of it and stop making excuses for our inertia.
Eh? I'm pretty sure the whole desertification from historic climate change proverbial ship has already sailed in Saudi Arabia.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Delenda Est » Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:47 pm

LivingRock wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:58 pm


Free flow of energy resources isn't "inertia", it's as important as it ever was. If you do not think it is, I'd like to here why. My explanation here:

Free flow of energy resources and a common enemy in Iran cannot be simply passed off as "inertia". I'd be curious to see a direct response to this...
LivingRock wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm
The Saudis, as the oil market’s swing producer, remains as important to the global security and economic commons as ever. The oil market is internationally integrated in U.S. dollars, so, despite U.S. energy self-sufficiency, the price of oil is still beholden to global supply-and-demand. Unless you are into thinking America could be it's own little isolated place in the world economically and could care less about the U.S. supply of global security goods, this still matters enormously for U.S. foreign policy... Iran and China (along with Russia) would love nothing more to gain more power in the region to completely undermine that dynamic. That would ultimately make America a much less secure and prosperous place.
I think it's evident that your thinking about this is bound by inertia, by the contours of the postwar US-led International System that is becoming less pertinent by the year. China's strength is steadily increasing, and the ME is becoming a strategic backwater (at least from the perspective of the United States). It's the countries of the Old World who have the relatively greater interest in the geopolitics of the region - and their security-investment in the region should reflect that fact. In the world that is emerging, we retain all the responsibilities of maintaining international order, while other countries reap the strategic advantage. China would be just fine with the United States shouldering the risks and the costs of maintaining the flow of oil out of the ME that is their lifeblood, as they build a navy that will ultimately be able to project power into our Hemisphere and into the Arctic...

The ME is a basketcase; its only export besides oil is going to be refugees, more by the year. Who cares what power moves into "the strategic vacuum" left by our departure from that Godforsaken region? Any power that does will only inherit a greater strategic liability than asset. Again: the world's oil-supply from this period of time forward does not depend vitally on the Middle East.

No, I don't think that the US can or should pursue a policy of economic Isolation - but backing off from Old World security-commitments is not tantamount to that.

And again: so many of you advocates for the American Imperium cannot seem to wrap your head around the notion that other states will have care enough to act in their own interest and not disrupt the System upon which they depend just as much as we do. And in the cases where countries are so seized by regional rivalries, to risk ruining themselves by open hostilities - well again I think it's pure folly to think that we can, simply by interposing ourselves, somehow prevent it.

In the short-term, there's no point in lamenting the absence of the American presence, since precipitous withdrawal is not practically feasible. I am banging the drum strongly now, because getting out of there even in the medium-term will involve overcoming a lot of inertia, indeed inertia which you are exemplifying in your viewpoint expressed here.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by LivingRock » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:44 pm

Delenda Est wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:47 pm
Again: the world's oil-supply from this period of time forward does not depend vitally on the Middle East.
Respectfully, simply repeating this does not make it so. I'm open to any further evidence on insight you may have on this specifically. But I believe it to be conventionally known that despite more fossil fuel production from unconventional plays in North America, oil remains a commodity traded from one pool of energy that exists worldwide. A major disruption of oil coming from the ME would drive up energy prices significantly (with emphasis), including in the U.S., likely cause a sever global recession while undermining the economy of many of our allies. Iran's dominance in the region would (once again, see: Cold War and Iraq invasion of Kuwait), pose the prospect of a hostile power being in a position to manipulate the oil supply from the region.

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Re: This Is The Moment That Decides the Future of The Middle East

Post by Delenda Est » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:11 pm

LivingRock wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:44 pm
Delenda Est wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 6:47 pm
Again: the world's oil-supply from this period of time forward does not depend vitally on the Middle East.
Respectfully, simply repeating this does not make it so. I'm open to any further evidence on insight you may have on this specifically. But I believe it to be conventionally known that despite more fossil fuel production from unconventional plays in North America, oil remains a commodity traded from one pool of energy that exists worldwide. A major disruption of oil coming from the ME would drive up energy prices significantly (with emphasis), including in the U.S., likely cause a sever global recession while undermining the economy of many of our allies. Iran's dominance in the region would (once again, see: Cold War and Iraq invasion of Kuwait), pose the prospect of a hostile power being in a position to manipulate the oil supply from the region.
Well, for starters, there is the fact (as you are well aware) that there are ongoing new finds of oil fields; and of course new extraction techniques like hydraulic fracturing which have made the US into a dominant fossil-fuel producer: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/22/oil-pri ... sions.html All of this is existing and potential supply to close the gap in the case of a sudden ME supply-crunch.

Further, we have history to reference concerning this: Iran fought a brutal decadelong war with Iraq, a fight that is for a number of reasons likely to be more ferocious that any prospective Iran-Saudi war... and that fight did not trigger a crisis of supply in the global system. Also of course you've acknowledged yourself the role Russia could play in shoring up the availability of oil.

Mostly the fear of a supply-crunch because of a Mideast crisis is just an age-old geopolitical reflex that we need to get over. Once we do, we really can look at the global security situation with fresh eyes. We just don't need our fingers in the pie all over the Old World - not anymore. I'd still be open to a strong NATO to deter the Russians from being tempted into aggression against the Baltic States (and Sweden); but continuing our investment in Europe is a whole different thing from being all over Africa and Asia. We need to get out of there and put the "peace dividend" to much better use (like, defraying the expense of our annual 1T deficit).

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