Why do we care about the Middle East? When people ask me that question, it still shocks me. Do they really not get it? Maybe with the murder of Benazar Bhutto of Pakistan, we need a reminder why it is in America's, in the world's best interest, to care about this sandy, forsaken landscape half-way around the world.
It has been my belief since the beginning that George W. Bush entered Iraq secondarily because of Saddam Hussein's WMD flirtations. Yes everyone, including the lily livered Democrats and squishy Republicans, believed Saddam was a bad guy desiring to do bad things with bad substances. He had done bad things. It wasn't a stretch that he'd do more bad things. But that didn't seem to me to be the most compelling reason for Iraq. To me, and I feel that George Bush must have seen this too, Iraq is first and foremost a strategic launching pad. For all Saddam's bluster, he was weak. No one could imagine how weak until the Yanks marched through Iraq. It happened so quickly, everyone was stunned. But the fall and subsequent search for scant WMDs mattered less than being planted as a bulwark against crazy in the Middle East.
Iraq borders Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, a couple Stans and a lovely thing called the Persian Gulf. Trouble brews in every place on the list. And trouble there means trouble everywhere. Russia trembles with hypermasculine impotence. Any way to cause trouble to the alpha males of the world will be and are being embraced. Putin squeezes Europe already. Georgia sits like a plum in a vice. Iran would happily be the conduit for Putin's displeasure. More on all this here.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Pakistan boil with extremism. Here's what's happening now:
"We've really got a new situation here in western Pakistan," said Army Col.
Thomas Lynch III, who has served in Afghanistan and with Central Command, the
U.S. military headquarters for Pakistan and the Middle East. He said the
assassination marks a "critical new phase" in jihadist operations in Pakistan
and predicted the coming months would bring concentrated attacks on other
"The Taliban ... are indeed a growing element of the
domestic political stew" in Pakistan, said John Blackton, who served as a U.S.
official in Afghanistan in the 1970s and again 20 years later. He noted that
Pakistani military intelligence created the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"Pakistan must take drastic action against the Taliban in its midst or we will face the
prospect of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of al-Qaida — a threat far
more dangerous and real than Hussein's arsenal ever was," he said, referring to
the deposed Saddam Hussein.
Nuclear warheads in the hands of Jihadists in a country where 40% approve of Osama. America may not be able to do anything from Afghanistan to stop willful annihilation, but I hazard to say it could do less without a mid-east presence.
And Pakistan is a crazy little country compared to China with her supersized ambitions. Imagine the panic should China not get the fuel needed to keep its economic engine humming. Forget for a moment American's cries of despair at being deprived of cheap consumer products, the bigger problem would be an unstable country armed to the teeth.
Don't forget Israel, either. Like Tawain, Israel is a freedom-loving democracy, and America is about democracy building, remember? As shaky as that idea may be as a long-term solution to extremist middle east regime problems, there is one democracy that thrives over there. Should that country be abandoned?
Oh yeah, there's this other little thing called oil. I never have understood what's so upsetting about trading a little blood for a lot of oil. If China, Japan, Europe and America come to a screeching halt economically, the next step would be, inevitably, war. And there would be a whole lot more blood spilled. The whole world is entertwined in ways that could have never been imagined during the World War II era. The internet reflects a world interconnected.
Our fate rests in the Middle East as much as any other country's. The Jihadists hate freedom. They hate life. They believe they have a holy mission. If Pakistan crumbles, if Iran arms, if Afghanistan turns back to the Taliban, if China becomes aggressive, if Russia presses, if, if, if, the free people of the world have big problems.
America is in the Middle East because, well, isn't it obvious?
Cross-posted at Right Wing News.