Arab Chaos: What should the United States do?

24 Mar

Subsidize our revolution. We'll be moderate. I PROMISE!

 

I must say, it is great seeing people protesting all over North Africa and the Middle East. Tyrannical despots and their cronies are a dime a dozen in that part of the world and it is certainly nice to know that they haven’t completely broken the collective spirit of their peoples. As a Tea Party Patriot, it excites me to know that Muslim societies have the ability to demand accountability from the oppressive regimes that do whatever they can to suppress freedom. However, this is where the excitement stops. The United States has stretched itself thin and probably cannot afford to allot too many resources to respond to every situation. Though it would be unwise of us to put our hands up and say we are broke, our decision makers have to make sure they have a strategy in place to both encourage democracies and stability (while thinking about the federal coffers). Steady energy supplies, good faith business dealings, and cultural exchanges with the region should be a goal. However, as ripe as the seemingly democratic movements are, we are completely clouded with uncertainty.

Like it or not, our long-term support of oppressive regimes puts us in a bit of a pickle. Our two main reasons for supporting dictators were to 1) continue to the steady supply of oil [for the PC readers out there, energy is a great reason to have ties to a region] and 2) Israel’s security. Here is a quick rundown of how I think we should triage:

Tunisia and Algeria are not particularly relevant to us. Yes, we would like to see those countries embrace democratic reforms, but neither is particularly a hotbed of extremism. Those countries have a lot of influence by their former European colonial rulers and their moderate Arab counterparts (i.e. Morocco).

Egypt is probably the only fully self-sustaining revolution. By rejecting Mubarak’s calls to suppress the protestors at all costs, the Egyptian military showed that it has restraint. Further, by working towards non-constricting temporary security state while respecting constitutional reforms, for now, they’ve proven themselves to be a model for other protestors. However, Egypt has also received a lot of support from the US over the last 3 decades. Also, the country is also a major tourist destination. These two elements enabled Egypt to be much more advanced as a society and much more tolerant.

Libya is just a mess. At first, it seemed like the rebellion was well-organized and that they uprising might have been able to overthrow Qaddafi on its own. But then reality struck. It is always much easier to launch an offensive than it is to maintain positions. Now, we don’t really know whether the Pro-Qaddafi loyalists are sincere and we certainly don’t know whether the rebellion can be relied upon to respect democratic principles and human rights. Also, President Obama rashly joined an international coalition that is about assertive as a 15 year old girl with self-esteem issues. We don’t know if the UN, NATO, or any other coalition of countries will actually take over the no-fly zone. More likely than not, we are going to be stuck in a larger role than we wanted to be in. With troops and resources already committed to Iraq and Afghanistan, I can’t image this sits well. Can we really afford to spend billions of extra $$ on an uncertain military intervention with no end in sight?

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen pose the greatest threat. Every President from the last three decades has a picture holding hands with the Saudi King or some Prince. Our oilmen are responsible for developing and maintaining their oil fields. American energy companies rely heavily on the access the Saudi royal family provides. We have a military personnel, equipment, and bases in the country as well. Unfortunately, we also support their Wahhabist repressive regime both directly and indirectly. How would we respond to a Saudi revolution? Who would we support? Another country that is in a similar position (but a much smaller scale) is Bahrain. We have a strategic naval fleet that can respond to much of South Asia, the Persian Gulf, and the Sinai stationed over there. There is a serious risk of revolution. Yemen is a little bit different. Yemen is not developed like Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. They have also been a hotbed of extremism and a launching point for terrorism on the West. We are probably in the stickiest situation on the Arabian Peninsula. We’ve actively supported some of the most brutal regimes in the world, allowed them to get extremely rich from their vast oil reserves, and more importantly, have indirectly contributed to the power grip of totalitarian regimes.

Please continue to read Muslim Tea Party Patriots for more analysis on the Middle East. For a summary of what is going on in North Africa and the Middle East, click here.

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