Should Us Foreign Policy Objectives Include Active Involvement in The Middle East?
A question highly prevalent in modern politics, should US foreign policy really include and extend to active involvement in Middle Eastern affairs? Although merit exists on both sides of the debate, the following are a few reasons as to why it should not (pro side coming soon!).
Should US foreign policy include active involvement in the politics of the Middle East?
When one considers any subject as overwhelmingly important as that presented in this essay prompt, it is imperative, first and foremost, to define the phrase “active involvement”. Based on the historical activity of the United States in the Middle East, it is safe to assume active involvement is not simply restricted to diplomatic measures associated with organizations such as NATO and the UN, but military and economic action (i.e. trade sanctions) as well.
Within the last two decades, we as the United States have actively taken part in over five wars, dozens of military and political conflicts, and hundreds of peace/human rights movements. However, during the aforementioned areas of intervention, has the US really proved a benefactor, or simply the scorned leading member of the so-called “world-police”? Many people in both America and the Middle Eastern world would agree with the latter statement, believing the US has no right to involve itself in the business of foreign affairs. Furthermore, the economy of the United States has taken a serious fall during the last few years, and the cost of war in countries like Afghanistan are estimated in the hundreds of billions, greatly angering our own population. In addition, critics state that even when the US is welcome, it often outstays its visit (like in Afghanistan currently). And although a myriad of points exist as to why US foreign policy should not include active involvement in the Middle East, there are three main points that really stand out.
First, the United States is not welcome in many countries, and the presence of the US is not beneficial towards an effort of peace or democratic hegemony. In 2003, the United States declared war on the nation of Iraq, under the pretense that weapons of mass destruction were being developed. But not only did this evidence not exist, but even if a nuclear weapons program was being established, no threat had been imposed on the US. In fact, our involvement was so preemptive that very few international bodies actually supported the decision, dramatically reducing our world image. In addition, the current war in Afghanistan has come to a standstill, costing the government, and consequently the people, of the United States billions of dollars with little results. It is estimated that only 100 members of Al Qaeda currently reside in Afghanistan, yet tens of thousands of unfamiliar (as far as the landscape and terrorist tactics) American soldiers are needed to suppress this “uprising”?
Second is the battle for human rights in the Middle East. What America must realize is that civil liberties movements around the world are not doomed to failure if we choose not to interfere unchecked. Take, for example, our own numerous civil liberties movements. Primarily, these have involved little outside influence. We were not aided by other first, second, or third world nations in our struggles for these rights. We have fought these battles within our own nation, using our own citizen-power, and we have triumphed in due time. Individual citizens and the movements they organized tapped so much raw energy because they were “organic,” if you will—they were local, grass roots, peer-driven “vehicles” for change. We embraced these movements because our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow citizens were working hard to convince us that times needed to change, and Middle Eastern movements require the same. They must be led by familiar, trusted faces and voices. As much as we may want to ignore the current state of affairs between most of the Middle East and the US, the tenuous connections between the two regions will not support our overt presence in any sort of movement. If we care to change these connections into solid, meaningful relationships, we must rethink the standard support tactics that we employ. These movements must also take into account what civil liberties means to an Iraqi, or an Iranian, or a Jordanian, or a Palestinian, etc. If we attempt to force upon many regions a mold that has worked for this country, the outcome will surely be disastrous, as it has been on numerous occasions.
Lastly we must address more diplomatic measures. Sanctions on countries like Iran have proved holistically unsuccessful- actually damaging the newly emerging democratic infrastructure and innocent civilians, and peace talks with much of the Middle East have actually led to a decrease in amicable relations. Hypocritical accusations and stress imposed by the US on more unstable nations in the region has led to the levy of threats, and terrorism is worse now than ever.
In conclusion, few positive benefits can result from interaction in the Middle East, and opportunities to actually improve situations in countries in turmoil (like Pakistan, Israel, Iraq, etc.) are damaged due to empirical failure. If we are ever to see tranquility in the region, the United States must withdraw itself politically from the Middle East and let the development of peace progress naturally, as it has done in the rest of the world for centuries.