In Iraq and Syria, in our war against ISIS, we find ourselves not only allied with Iraq, but reluctant allies of Iran and Syria’s President Assad. In Yemen, aligning ourselves with our ally, Saudi Arabia, against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, we find our cause there being aided by terrorist attacks by ISIS and Al-Qaeda. In Egypt, our awkward support of Hosni Mubarak turned into awkward support of the Muslim Brotherhood and then into awkward support of Sisi’s military dictatorship. In Libya we awkwardly don’t know who to support. And – talk about awkward – we are perceived as taking sides in a sectarian conflict within Islam.
What are we doing over there? Now that we are pretty much self-supportive when it comes to petroleum, what overwhelming national interest compels us into one awkward alliance, one awkward enmity, after another? We certainly are not making friends, no matter who comes out on top in the end.
The sensible course for the United States is to stand back and let these governments and their opponents who, if allies, are allies of convenience only, fight it out among themselves. When it is all over, when the dust clears, then we will be able to make policy that is not awkward.
If humanitarian concerns compel us to intervene in the Middle East, then we should be spending our treasure and manpower on aiding civilians caught up in the turmoil, providing escape corridors for them and keeping them as well and comfortable as we can while they are refugees.
A P. S., which I neglected to include in the letter: It is a mistake to think that by defeating ISIS in the Middle East we will prevent ISIS attack on US soil. As long as ISIS is busy defending itself in the Middle East, terrorist attacks elsewhere will be put on the back burner. As soon as ISIS is defeated -- which it will be, sooner or later -- it will become a typical covert terrorist group, like Al-Qaeda, dangerous everywhere in the world, instead of just the Middle East.