I totally agree with the Obama doctrine of containment and isolation. The best of lousy options. Please think hard with me on this issue facing us and the world. Superficial understanding will not birth good solutions.
First, regarding our longstanding economic motivation to try to influence events in the middle east, with disastrous outcomes. Petroleum reserves
experts seem to suggest we can quickly transition our middle east oil
imports to other suppliers…..Canada, Mexico et al until we can get out
of the oil business, or at least minimize its horrific environmental and political impact with its use in the energy mix.
Next, we are compelled to provide major materials/armaments/air support to
middle east actors willing to rid their area of the Caliphate. Tragically these Caliphate jihadists have probably as much right to change middle
east borders as western colonialists did after the collapse of the
Ottoman empire), which is one of the historic roots of our problem in
that region. Oil interests in the region largely drove this western initiative, to tragic long term effect on middle eastern populations and us.
But, somehow, we must find difficult to execute ways to incentivize our middle east allies to work on containment with us with the energy you'd hope would motivate these players as if their very survival depends on it. Because it does depend on their aggressive engagement in the containment and ultimate Caliphate elimination project.
We must understand the failed history of military occupation, particularly in the middle east and just get out. Engage with massive diplomatic effort, but get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. That includes drone bases therein. The negative results of our drone warfare far exceed its benefits.
Yes, we are also going to have to find ways to convince our allies, such as Turkey and the Gulf oil states to get initiatives going to reduce and neutralize the fighter recruiting efforts within their borders, including economic incentives to give hope and a future to their young populations at sufficient levels to keep them busy building a better society there rather than resort to becoming suicide bombers and military fodder for the Caliphate. But build those better societies in their way, not ours.
To believe the fable that if only they would adopt our form of democracy is to fail to understand our own deterioration of our democratic experiment.
And, similar initiatives are vital, now, not later, to help young offspring and recent immigrants to the EU to integrate, prosper to some degree at least feel hope for their future in these very different societies than their families and ancestors grew up and suffered in. This will take money and lots of creativity.
We in the U.S. must, sadly, tighten both travel (to and from) to the middle east
region, immigration of middle easterners and ramp up surveillance of
actors identified as potential homeland security risks within our
boundaries. Also, expensively, much more careful screening of displaced persons to whom
we offer refuge with the current diaspora out of the middle east will be absolutely essential. This will be difficult for our civil liberty and pro-immigrant traditions.
The U.S. and all our allies must initiate severe trade and banking restrictions in addition to oil on
those middle eastern countries who fail to abandon support for
jihadists from within their populace; ie: Saudi Arabia and their fellow Gulf oil states. Cutting off both funding, supply routes and arms trade with the Caliphate has to be our highest priority. Yes, and we'll have to starve them out of existence.
This threat must force us to address our maintenance of a twentieth century military when what is needed is a twenty first century military. Our costly maintenance of our rusting and degrading nuclear stockpile most be virtually eliminated. Our entire ground, air and sea forces must be rebuilt for rapid deployment and smaller, surgical strike forces to deal with guerrilla and urban warfare. And major chunks of military funding must be diverted to building a really effective intelligence and diplomatic capability.
In the diplomatic sphere, our overemphasis on its trade promotion mission must be reprioritized to skew towards aid in counter terrorism and containment projects with our allies.
Add to this major diplomatic and aid initiatives to partner with
governments where new jihadist groups are forming and operating within their
Finally, way better intelligence gathering on the ground in countries of
concern. This means learning from, yes, Israel who are among the best
on that front.
We in the Christian and secular west must deepen our understanding of Islam. Here, for my readers, is a start on the project from Atlantic magazine. This is long, so take your time.
Along with better understanding Islam, I'd suggest we take a hard look at Christianity and Judaism, through both the new and old testaments. There are very socially destructive notions contained in both as there are in the Koran which is driving the Caliphate. Look at our own tolerance of fundamentalist Christianity in America and how similar this cohort is to fundamentalist Islam. I'd recommend we take a hard look at religions role in the social order, or disorder. Particularly those in the social fabric who view religion/theology as a destination, rather than a search and exploration of the meaning of life as we know it. Religious certitude drives conflict and misunderstanding, in my opinion.
Finally, we must engage the World Court to more publicly and aggressively put on
trial these jihadist war criminals , including those we have taken out,
as a clear statement to emulators that the world will not accept this
kind of crime against humanity.
This epistle too is a search, not a destination.