In the Humble Opinion of LittleBill, Socialist, Atheist, and Humanist
What Now in the Middle East?

This was an excellent article entitled What Now in the Middle East? in the Chroncicle for 30-Nov. It is in Open Forum on the Opinion pages. The author is Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister and vice chancellor from l998 to 2005.

Here are some excerpts:

The political and security situation in the vast region between the Indus Valley and the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean is a cause for grave concern. When the United States intervened militarily in Iraq in 1991, the intention was to effect fundamental change in the entire region. Today it is clear that hardly any aspect of this policy has succeeded. Even the success of free elections in Iraq is threatening to divide rather than unite the country.

The existing power relations in the Middle East have indeed been permanently shaken and, indeed, revolutionized. The effect however, has not been a domino-like democratization; instead we are threatened with a domino effect of descent into chaos.

The decision to go to war against Iraq to liberate Kuwait, back in 1991, marked the beginning of America's role as the sole hegemonic military power in the region. The decision to go to war against Iraq for a second time, and then to occupy the country in March 2003, transformed this hegemony into direct U.S. responsibility for the future of the Middle East.
. . . .
The very character of the war in Iraq has been transformed from a democratizing mission into a stabilizing mission high in casualties and in cost. Instead of the intended radical realignment of power relations in the region, the aim is now to simply maintain the status quo.

The most the United States can hope for at this point is a withdrawal that saves face. The November elections in America were a referendum on the war in Iraq. Their results, in fact, set a timetable for the "Iraqization" and U.S. withdrawal -- before the next presidential election.

Behind the all-too-foreseeable end of the American stabilizing mission lurks a civil war in Iraq, which threatens to turn into an Arab-Iranian proxy war for dominance in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and beyond. Moreover, there is an acute risk that the power vacuum created in Iraq will fuse the Israeli-Arab conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan into one regional mega-crisis.
. . . .
Washington's realization that Iraq can no longer be won or even stabilized unless the regional framework changes, has come late -- perhaps too late. . . .

If this policy shift had taken place a year ago or even early last summer, the prospects would have been better. And with every passing day, America's position in the region is weakening further and the chances of a successful new political strategy become more remote.

. . . . there remains a chance to stabilize the situation. . . it will be necessary to offset, or at least balance, the interests of the most important actors in the region. This means a strategy based on political leverage not a threat of military intervention or regime change. In their stead must come direct talks, security guarantees and support in political and economic integration.

A new Middle East policy will thus have to concentrate primarily on four aspects:
  1. a comprehensive offer to Syria to detach the country from Iran and settle open conflicts;
  2. an offer to Iran for direct talks about the perspective of a full normalization of relations;
  3. a decisive and realistic initiative to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict
  4. a regional security architecture that centers on stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan.
This came out ahead of the Iraq Study Group's report, and bears it out.


Vigilante said...

He wants to
"...set a timetable for the 'Iraqization' and U.S. withdrawal -- before the next presidential election."

I think we, as a nation, ought to aim for redeploying from Iraq - ending the occupation - before the election of November 2008.

an average patriot said...

Hi Little bill and Mercury
Hope this isn't too long but this is what is next and it was set in stone from the get go.
The Idiocy and Audacity that anyone thinks they can stop Bush's middle east Breakdown!
Okay, so the Iraqi study Group has branded Bush's policies the failure that it has always been, was destined to be, and their proposals are worthless! The troop pullout will not happen,
Bush will continue to waste American lives for his lost cause, and the use of advisors we have been saying, should have been done long ago If we were to learn anything from Vietnam. In Nam We went in as advisors first, sent in combat regulars, and then got thrown out.
We should be doing just the opposite now. We went in hard, and should already have turned most forces over to advisory roles and started withdrawing. However, it no longer matters. no one can stop the Iraqi middle east breakdown that Bush guaranteed when he attacked Iraq.
There will be no bipartisan Diplomacy from us or more importantly from the Shiite's and Sunni. They don't want it. They want their own sect to have their way and that's it. That's the way it has always been and Bush isn't going to change that but rather reinforce it.

The experts keep saying Bush must listen unless he wants to pay politically. He could care less. He isn't running any more. If he had any intention of listening to them he wouldn't have assigned his own group to tell him what he wanted.
Regardless, no one can stop what Bush started when he diverted from the so called war on terror to attack Iraq to start to implement his new middle east order.
Failure was a given from the start and no one can stop this breakdown now. This is still just getting started and will get a hell of a lot worse and spread throughout the entire middle east. Then it gets worse!
Bush will also go against his own party then he can say to Iraq I told you I wouldn't abandon you and I didn't. After we leave he will also stupidly insist that if we had stayed we would have won but no way in hell!
He had a plan from the beginning and no one is going to alter its end now!
From 9/11 he has been following a plan. Fighting terrorism was not it. It was just the reason he needed to attack Iraq and start to implement his new middle east and world order.
As you may remember, Bush was looking for something to happen that would put the country and the world behind what he already had plans to do and it wasn't fighting terrorism as he wanted you to think. 9/11 gave him that something. He has been lying and misleading right from the beginning.
He had plans right from the beginning to establish a new middle east order.
He used the excuse of 9/11 to attack Iraq and unsettle the middle east guaranteeing the loss of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the entire middle east. If fighting terrorism was his goal he would have stayed in Afghanistan or gone after Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. He lied to our troops and us from the beginning. Nothing and no one can stop this now.
It is beyond anyone's control and it will get a lot worse. He did this so he could further his idea of a new middle east order. Of course lying all the while and whipping up as much support and frenzy as he could in the media and minds he controls until he can fully implement his plans. However they were doomed to fail from conception!
At this point it behooves him to continue to ignore reality and continue to whip up a frenzy so he can continue staying the course in order to further prosecute his new middle east order. However it has already failed and no one can turn it around.
We are all shamelessly being used so Bush can follow his plan for new order and he will not be denied. I wrote this 3 years ago but it is more obvious today. Let me know what you think? I won't get any deeper but it gets worse from here.

James Joiner
Gardner, Ma

LittleBill said...

Great article, AAP! Read my article just below the one from the Chronicle to see my take on Bush's reasoning.

Loftin said...

See? We didn't need the Iraq Group to tell us this!

One hundred forty-two pages? Seventy-nine recommendations? How much paper is the Iraq Study Group going to waste telling us how to move forward from the disaster in Iraq? What is so complicated about saying simply: End the war, bring the troops home and spend the money saved on suffering infrastructure right here at home.

LittleBill said...

Right on, Loftin! And I have a question which I have not asked yet-How does the administration know that if we got out "they" would follow us here? Maybe "they" would, but that should not be a reason for keeping our same unfortunate forces there. Thanks to the Decider, our country would be in the unfortunate moral position of being lucky if we were able to accept and acknowledge defeat and get the hell out.

an average patriot said...

okay little Bill I will do that now. Thanks!

Vigilante said...

Lil'Bill, I am just reading through the 21 April 2003 edition of NeoCon William Crystal's WEEKLY STANDARD, where he is ridiculing Joachim Fischer for being a pessimist about Bush's invasion of Iraq. (That was one month after the invasion and ten days before Bush declared his mission accomplished.)