A Modest Proposal for the Middle East

Pull out of Iraq while having the air force bomb the Ba’athist government in Syria and the Party of God in Lebanon.

The net results (viz. the April 2003 invasion of Iraq)

  • No more minority (Sunni Ba’ath) government in Iraq
  • No more minority (Alawite Ba’ath) government in Syria
  • No more minority (Hizbollah) government in Lebanon

Our legacy is three rational states, a huge improvement over the mess with British and French made.

3 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal for the Middle East”

  1. Dan, What kind of air campeign are you suggesting? Why can't thiose targeted current regime folks just bunker down and then claim victory when they emerge into the daylight?

  2. Nykrindc,

    The most likely outcome would be
    Shia Iraq: SCIRI/Dawa/Mahdi
    Kurd Iraq: KDP/PUK
    Syria/Sunni Iraq: Muslim Brothers


    Our goal would be a ruleset reset in those states: removing the regime as the provider for security for the citizenry. The short answer to your question would be “the destruction of the state's ability to wage war against intern opposition.”

  3. Given recent moves by Turkey and Iran to clamp down on their own Kurdish populations, and either conducting (Iran) or threatening to conduct (Turkey) cross-border operations against Kurdish groups using Northern Iraq as a sanctuary from which to carry out attacks, it seems unlikely that that would be a peaceful event. Additionally, Turkey has told the US that it will not accept a Kurdish state that includes Kirkuk and its petroleum reserves. The Kurds understand this, that is why their strategy is more long term to demonstrate to the Turks and others in the region that an independent Kurdistan would benefit them economically.

    In addition, a SCIRI/DAWA/Mahdi Iraq would hardly be a force for stability in the region, particularly if the more hardline elements come to power. This would also be exacerbated by any Sunni Arab state that emerges in Western Iraq. Syria would likley seek to extend its influence there, as would Saudi and other players seeking to counter Iranian influence in the region. That is what the question on who fills the security vacuum was getting at. With all these competing agendas, and competing powers in Iraq who ensures that they do not spark a larger regional war that would not only spread the instability in Iraq to the rest of the countries in the region, but also threaten oil supplies to both the East and the West. Add to that the likely increase in jihadists on both sides (Sunni and Shiite) who will also attempt to fill the vacuum.

  4. Nykrindc,

    Why we would want to preserve “stability” in a region where stability means a continuous degredation from civilization (a fall extending back to 1945 or so) is beyond me. The Realist cry for “status quo at any price” is morally and substantively bankrupt, while any attempt to shrink the Gap is by its nature unstabilizing to the Gap.

    A SCIRI/Dawa/Mahdi Iraq is what we have, in a domestic sense, in the country already. We will get it in a foreign policy sense once we allowed that democracy to operate in that arena. (It's also what we get if we force the democracy to collapse.) Such a state would be better than the regime that preceeded it and better than its southern neighbor, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  5. I'm not arguing for preserving the status quo, but rather for pursuing that change in a more controlled manner. Once Hussein was gone we were supposed to spur the growth of a reformed Iraqi state (or constituent parts), however, I find that extremely difficult if Turkey, Iran and the rest of the region are draw into a regional war. First, and most importantly, it takes Turkey out of the Core, or even Seam state status and brings it down to the Gap, away from Europe and likely away from the US. It brings us into direct conflict with Iran (the opposite from where we want to be) because the US will seek to protect the West's oil supply, meaning that the East will do the same, ultimately bringing China, India and Russia opposite our side. I fail to see how that expands the Core, or furthers the connectivity we are trying to establish.

  6. Nykrindc,

    Our “Big Bang” strategy for the Middle East assumes that the Middle Eastern political economic system is bad. Fixing a system does not mean fixing one state merely through spurring “the growth of a reformed Iraqi state (or constituent parts).” System-level problems are bigger than the behavior of one State [1] It means pumping enough stress into the mechanism to break it.

    As Tom Barnett said

    “9/11 put us past caring about those regimes' stability like we used to.

    Bush basically runs a race with Osama: who can destabilize the region's regimes first?” [2]

    Additionally, who will fight this hoped-for regional war? Iran is a large country with a sizeable army next door, while Iraq's other neighbors either have laughable militaries run by an ethnic minorities (Syria, Jordan) or no military at all (KSA). The only other option you mentioned in Turkey, but as you said could not rationally do so.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/08/03/israel-is-a-new-core-state-fighting-in-the-gap.html
    [2] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002427.html

  7. The goal of a ruleset reset in those nations is a good one.

    I am an agnostic on the ability of airpower to do it. I mean, I think the limit of the airpower destruction force the US would be willing to apply, would be much less then that needed to do the job.

    I think some briainstorming on 4GW tactics (hi-tech and low-tech) for and by states is inorder – but I am on a blogging break this week). Destructive airpower seems to be a 2GW thinking/wishing. The allied bombings in ww2 Europe didn't cause the Germans to capitulate.

  8. Purpleslog,

    “The allied bombings in ww2 Europe didn't cause the Germans to capitulate.”

    True, but the Germans weren't an ethnic minority within their own State. Instead of WW2 in Europe, think of a Kosovo War if the majority of Serbia-Montenegro's citizens were Kosovars.

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