The US State Department foreign policy in the Middle East reminds me of the concept of building more hospitals and training more doctors to treat a virus instead of attacking the virus itself.
That’s under any normal US presidency.
But under the Obama presidency, the US State Department is building hospitals and training doctors while simultaneously feeding nutrients to the virus.
They call it diplomacy but I think it is sheer lunacy.
What started as a Rebellion by Arab youths in N. Africa and the Levant in pursuit of economic justice and against cronyism has morphed itself into a religious Rebellion thanks to the nutrient supplements injected by US policy makers to organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. How did we miss this opportunity?
All the while, US taxpayers have forked billions of dollars for democracy programs in the Middle East instead of fighting the virus itself.
Am I permitted to ask this question of US policy makers: Where are the results of the democracy programs in Egypt? Not that they are wrong. But when you build more hospitals and simultaneously feed nutrients to the virus, you are inviting the virus to fill many empty beds.
Many amongst US policy makers truly believe the Muslim Brotherhood is not a virus. They can afford that luxury given western societies are not the ones to submit to Islamist Sharia’a laws that belittles women to the point of non-existence.
Many have been promised post-retirement job opportunities by countries like Saudi Arabia if they simply follow their advice and support their ideas.Â
And then others, the small minority with a full grasp of the situation, are unable to change this bureaucracy trained to negotiate endlessly. Upon entering the office of one of those senior officials who fought this mindset, I was received with a “Welcome to the occupied territories of the US State Department”.
The harder the problem, the more negotiations are injected to solve it. But what happens when the problem is easy to solve? Do we empower it to marshal our negotiation skills or do we eradicate it immediately? Glory comes to those who actually succeed as rare as this occurrence may be. How could they succeed on the world stage if the festering problem is not global? They all want to be giants of diplomacy but very few will ever reach the status of a Kissinger. In pursuit of that mirage, our diplomats negotiate a deadly issue to death.
Take Syria for example. Assad has survived so far because our policy makers believed they can actually pressure him to abandon Iran in favor of aligning himself with the west.
Some five years of failure has convinced many that the methods, partially developed under a previous administration, are wrong but the concept is sound. Ask them today what they think the solution is and many will respond: We are working with the Arab League and Turkey to pressure him even more. Meanwhile, Russia has had enough time to arm Assad to his teeth. The US military establishment is not laughing at all.
Outside positive elements are being neglected or abandoned in pursuit of this obsession. The Free Syrian Army has the capacity and the manpower to dislodge Assad. Their high-ranking officers are not influenced by Islamists (No officer in Assad’s Syrian army would have reached that position if he did) and therefore this opportunity does not provide our diplomats with the challenges associated with negotiations with those who disagree with us.Â
What does our US State Department do? It quietly leaves the issue for PM Erdogan of Turkey to resolve it. Since the leadership of the FSA is on Turkish soil evading death, Erdogan responds by pressuring the FSA to submit to the Muslim Brotherhood. When they refuse, he blocks their bank accounts and the donations that come to them from the Syrian communities around the world.
We do not know who to thank for this ill-advised policy. Our president ever improving Golfing handicap or the policy makers who are looking forward to their retirement in the Bahamas courtesy of Arab oil money.Â