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  1. #1 Abizaid: Middle East is still a relevant region for the U.S. 
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Abizaid: Middle East is still a relevant region for the U.S.



    In order to both support secular, democratic forces and combat jihadist elements in the Middle East, the United States must retain an un-occupying, mobile land force in the region, according to Gen. John Abizaid, USA, Ret., a former commander of U.S. Central Command that oversees this area of the world.

    “The problem [in the Middle East] requires land power to be used, in smaller ways than we use them in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Abizaid said, while speaking at the Gen. Bernard W. Rogers Strategic Issues Forum, sponsored by the Association of the United States Army and its Institute of Land Warfare.

    Adding, “But we should never lose sight of the fact that land power will be necessary to deal with the emergencies that will come here in rapid succession in the next five years, in my opinion.”

    While the U.S. moves its diplomatic and military focus towards the pacific region, Abizaid warned against pivoting too quickly away from the still relevant region of the Middle East for a variety of reasons.

    “If we continue to give the impression that American power is leaving, because we don’t want to be here anymore, we will create a security vacuum that unfortunately can be replaced to a certain extent by unfriendly countries such as Iran and friendly countries such as Turkey,” Abizaid said, later adding that if the United States is committed to leaving in this way it should then “contain Iran and enhance Turkey.”
    Within the Middle East, and larger “Islamic world,” Abizaid described a continuing cold war between Sunni and Shia factions, pushing the region into “revolutionary turmoil.”

    In addition, he believes the authority of states in the region is losing ground to international, sectarian identities like religion and ethnicity—the most threatening is the growth of radical Sunni and Shia Islam.

    “The Sunni-Shia divide … is becoming much and much more deadly than I’ve seen in a long time,” said Abizaid, who is of Christian-Lebanese heritage.
    “The amount of violence along the Sunni-Shia fault lines … is increasing. It’s not decreasing,” he added.

    Specifically problematic, Abizaid explained, is the growth of jihadist ideology from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region to the greater Islamic world. This ideology, he said, isn’t necessarily centrally controlled by any one organization but rather is a decentralized “ideological spread” and “way of thinking.”
    “Radical Sunni Islam … is not mainstream,” Abizaid said. “But it’s mainstream enough to cause violence to take place not only in this region but in Europe and the United States, nearly everywhere on the planet, in ways that are very unpredictable and very violent.”

    Abizaid also addressed the issues of Israeli security, which he described as “deteriorating” and “dangerous;” potential nuclear proliferation; and oil production in the face of this regional upheaval.

    As to the oil issue, he explained that although the United States is moving toward less dependency on Middle Eastern oil, the world economy still relies heavily on it.

    Therefore, Abizaid said, attacks on the local oil sector by radical Shia and radical Sunni groups should still be an American concern.
    As to the Arab Spring, Abizaid believes it holds great potential for both a safer world and a more dangerous one.

    “It’s too soon to say how the Arab Spring turns out,” he said. “Jihadist activity, ideology, and sympathy have not been on the wane.”
    Abizaid described Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia as still within a “revolutionary turmoil.”

    Regarding Egypt, he believes that despite its illiberal views the Muslim-Brotherhood-dominated government of Mohamed Morsi can be worked with.
    The fear, according to Abizaid, is that Morsi’s government is not the finality of the Arab Spring but rather a temporary government, akin to Alexander Kerensky’s short-lived government during the Russian revolution, that falls to more extreme elements, like the Egyptian salafists.

    “I worry that as things go on and the economy deteriorates and the security situation deteriorates, and the salafists and the jihadists become louder and louder and louder, that it provides the opportunity for the ‘Kerensky government’ to fall to the ‘Bolsheviks.’”

    In order to prevent such Islamist takeovers in Egypt and across the Middle East, Abizaid advocated that the U.S. engage and support those on the opposite side of the spectrum.

    “We have not supported the secular people who really want to move their nations forward,” Abizaid said.

    In addition, he believes the United States needs a more coherent foreign policy in regards to revolutionary and potentially revolutionary states. For example, if the “Jordanians gets in trouble” with the Muslim Brotherhood challenging the regime’s authority, Abizaid asked: “Where does the United States stand?”

    “This battle is not against Al Qaeda,” he said. “It is against Sunni Islamic jihadism. And we have to start talking in those terms.”



    My only quibble with this is that Sunni/Shia cooperation among radicals has been growing. Iran and Hamas, for example, have put aside doctrinal differences in the face of common enemies. Infidels are always the primary target.
    --Odysseus
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member DumbAss Tanker's Avatar
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    The longevity and significance of 'Secular, democratic forces' in the Muslim world has been drastically overrated by both the Bush and Obama administrations resulting in massive pointless bloodshed, most lately in the Libyan non-War. We'd be far ahead of where we are to pursue a Machiavellian Realpolitik strategy of consciously pitting their myriad factions, sects, and tribes against each other to bleed them dry, subtly helping or hindering one or another as developing opportunities present. Substantial ground forces in the region would indeed substantially enhance our ability to deal with same since the one universal constant these groups can all understand and respect is the fact that someone else has the power ready to hand to squash them like an annoying bug.

    Unfortunately the leadership of both parties is too blinded by their own rainbow-farting unicorn bullshit to digest the fact that there are places where most of the people in a country regard the prospect of becoming a Western-style secular democracy with revulsion.

    Now, we could change that climate in a given place if we were willing to move in and occupy it with a colonial government and large constabulary and military forces for something on the order of fifty to a hundred years, which would involve doing many undemocratic things for a few decades of that time at least. That is pretty much the only way we could effect the generational change that would be necessary for our current rather silly political strategy to work. Of course, the chances of us being willing to make any such commitment and not abandon it completely within two Presidential terms are even lower than our chances of pursuing the Realpolitik option.
    Last edited by DumbAss Tanker; 01-30-2013 at 08:28 PM.
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  3. #3  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DumbAss Tanker View Post
    The longevity and significance of 'Secular, democratic forces' in the Muslim world has been drastically overrated by both the Bush and Obama administrations resulting in massive pointless bloodshed, most lately in the Libyan non-War. We'd be far ahead of where we are to pursue a Machiavellian Realpolitik strategy of consciously pitting their myriad factions, sects, and tribes against each other to bleed them dry, subtly helping or hindering one or another as developing opportunities present. Substantial ground forces in the region would indeed substantially enhance our ability to deal with same since the one universal constant these groups can all understand and respect is the fact that someone else has the power ready to hand to squash them like an annoying bug.
    I agree, but part of that strategy would have to involve engaging the reformers in Islam. They are there, but we ignore them because they are not a threat to us. This has the unintended consequence of empowering our enemies within their own society. In the case of Iraq, there was a secular, educated, urban elite that would have been receptive to us if we had not insisted on excluding them through de-Ba'athification.

    Quote Originally Posted by DumbAss Tanker View Post
    Unfortunately the leadership of both parties is too blinded by their own rainbow-farting unicorn bullshit to digest the fact that there are places where most of the people in a country regard the prospect of becoming a Western-style secular democracy with revulsion.
    Well, to be fair, most of our own leadership regard democracy with revulsion, so they have a hard time seeing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by DumbAss Tanker View Post
    Now, we could change that climate in a given place if we were willing to move in and occupy it with a colonial government and large constabulary and military forces for something on the order of fifty to a hundred years, which would involve doing many undemocratic things for a few decades of that time at least. That is pretty much the only way we could effect the generational change that would be necessary for our current rather silly political strategy to work. Of course, the chances of us being willing to make any such commitment and not abandon it completely within two Presidential terms are even lower than our chances of pursuing the Realpolitik option.
    Which is what we did with South Korea, Japan and Germany. Of course, our leaders back then genuinely understood the nature of the threat, and there was a bipartisan consensus that America was worth protecting, that our leadership was a good thing and our ideals were important. The problem today is that we have cynical, uninformed children pretending to spread ideals that they don't personally subscribe to. Why would anyone in the Third World take governing advice from us today?
    --Odysseus
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    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member DumbAss Tanker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odysseus View Post
    Why would anyone in the Third World take governing advice from us today?
    I can't imagine. If you read memoirs from either 8th Army or Afrika Korps officers about about their experiences with North African Arabs, you will see pretty much the exact same Arab approach to the West that exists in spades today. They profess fierce loyalty and undying support to whomever drives into the village last with loaded guns, and then as soon as they aren't directly under the muzzle of a Thompson or MP40, proceed to steal everything they can from the living and dead, after killing the wounded to facilitate the second.
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  5. #5  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DumbAss Tanker View Post
    I can't imagine. If you read memoirs from either 8th Army or Afrika Korps officers about about their experiences with North African Arabs, you will see pretty much the exact same Arab approach to the West that exists in spades today. They profess fierce loyalty and undying support to whomever drives into the village last with loaded guns, and then as soon as they aren't directly under the muzzle of a Thompson or MP40, proceed to steal everything they can from the living and dead, after killing the wounded to facilitate the second.
    That was pretty much the same experience of anyone who has ever gone through the region, going back to Moses. The Arab culture that we are having so much trouble with was the standard of behavior in Mecca when Mohammed was alive. The problem with Islam is that it forces converts to adopt this standard, to become Arab in outlook. V.S. Naipaul sums it up quite eloquently:

    "[Islam] has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter. "this abolition of the self demanded by Muslims was worse than the similar colonial abolition of identity. It is much, much worse in fact... You cannot just say you came out of nothing."
    In fact, Islam demands the destruction of artifacts of pre-Islamic cultures so that they do not inspire idolatry or other forms of apostasy:

    In 1994, a council of Saudi clerics was reported to have issued an edict asserting that preserving historical sites "could lead to polytheism and idolatry" – both punishable, under the Kingdom's laws, by death.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolog...l-secrets.html
    --Odysseus
    Sic Hacer Pace, Para Bellum.

    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
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