Every day without cessation the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) hammers away at Obama. His big, big crime or failure is that he thinks enough American blood has been shed in trying to bring peace to the Middle East. A WSJ op-ed chastises him for “refusing to commit any ground forces” to Iraq (haven’t we already done that before?); complains he “refused to send a peacekeeping force” to Libya (more troops) and for us not to get down and dirty in a war with Iran. The WSJ drum beat for war is is shocking.
An article in the WSJ on Thursday, March 26, 2015, by Max Boot a senior fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations is an example of this. It’s behind a pay wall. I’ll put some of the complaints he makes in quotes.
He starts with 3 points: first Obama’s withdrawal of forces from Iraq and Afghanistan (omitting to mention it was Bush’s plan to get them out of Iraq); next Obama is silent about Iran’s “power grab” in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (failing to mention IS); and finally, Obama’s dislike of Netanyahu (Boot will explain Netanyahu didn’t mean it when he said there would be no Palestinian state).
Boot writes that Obama’s actions show a realignment in American policy, “The president is pulling America back from the leading military role it has played in the Middle East since 1979 . . . . He is trying to transform Iran from an enemy to a friend.”
According to Boot this is something bad. I’d suggest we look back over that period of time. It would seem more appropriate to say, “it’s about time someone had enough sense to see our policy since 1979 has been not working and perhaps it is time to change it.” Or to use the often heard political expression: “are we better off in the Middle East now than we were in 1979.”
Boot later states: “successive U.S. presidents have backed Israel and Sunni allies, notably Saudi Arabia. Mr. Obama is bucking this foreign-policy consensus.” Again Mr. Boot want us to recoil in horror at the idea that Obama is hoping to change past policies and wants to try something new unlike those who want to continue to muddle along.
Obama has done lots of things I don’t like. To suggest his seeking of a peaceful route out of the 35 years of walking down a wrong path that has led to the Middle East we see today is not one of them. If Mr. Boot could only point to some one thing, yes only one, that our policy since 1979 has accomplished that benefited my country I might listen to him. He can’t. He can only laments that we won’t continue plodding along with this losing strategy. He won’t accept it hasn’t worked. It has only brought America toil and sorrow.
We have to consider what our foreign policy in the Middle East has brought us since 1979. Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982 and stayed there until 1985. The U.S. under President Reagan came in to help bring peace. On October 23, 1983, 220 Marines and 79 other Americans and allies were killed in a Beirut bombing. Thereafter Hezbollah surfaced and shortly after that Hamas. Reagan’s policies insured ongoing hostilities between Iran and the U.S.
After that there was the First Intifada from 1986 to 1993, an uprising by the Palestinians against Israel rule. During that time and afterwards the U.S. tried to bring peace with the Madrid Conference (1991). the Oslo Accords (1993-1995), the Wye River Memorandum (1998), the Camp David Summit (2000), Roadmap for Peace (2002), etc.
Meanwhile we were involved in the Gulf War (1990-1990), the Taliban was formed (1990) and took over Afghanistan (1996); Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan (1996) and al Qaeda rose up and declared war on the U.S. Attacks on American embassies in Africa and a Navy ship as well as the World Trade Center happened until the horror of 9/11/2001.
Thereafter we invaded Afghanistan. And then Iraq which we have seen become a Shiite state with strong ties to Iran; we’ve seen the rise of the particularly barbaric IS, and the ongoing war and destruction of Syria and the ongoing madness in Libya. In 2014 we saw Israel attack Gaza and increase its grab of land on the West Bank. This year we’ve seen Yemen fall.
That is what our policy has brought about since 1979. The WSJ seems to think we should continue with it. How long do we persist in a policy that has brought about one failure after another? How could anyone think continuing this bankrupt policy is a good idea?
We finally have a president who looks at the dismal history over the past 35 years and wants to do something different. He’d like to bring us a little peace. He is being condemned for wanting to try to change. Makes no sense to me.