Recently by Jack D. Douglas: How Totalitarian Police States AreBuilt
I’ve heard Congress people and others say repeatedly that the U.S. has no real or clear foreign policy for the Middle East. I think the U.S. has a clear but complex and changing, general policy in the Middle East which we can infer from U.S. actions, but Obama et al. keep using short run tactics and proclamations to deceive the various major powers there and the American people.
There is no simple, overall, constant policy like containment was toward the USSR for its final roughly forty years of existence. But there is a systematic set of nearly absolute goals which are interrelated. Let me set them out a bit starkly and clearly.
1. The U.S. will do whatever is necessary, if possible, to keep the Saudi and Persian Gulf oil flowing at its current rate.
2. The U.S. will protect Israel to keep it going.
3. The U.S. will contain Iran, work to decrease its wealth and power, carry out cyber and spy attacks on vital industries like nuclear enrichment and encourage revolutions against the government to bring it down and put a pro-U.S. one in place.
4. The U.S. will seek to keep in place pro-American puppet regimes by all effective means that do not subvert the other general goals.
5. The U.S. will accept new pro-American regimes when necessary and work to make them more so in every way to control the oil and other vital resources.
6. The U.S. will seek to keep Russia, China, and other non-Western powers out of the Middle East as much as possible consistent with these major goals.
7. The U.S. will work quietly in all ways to subvert and constrain the development of Islamist governments in all nations, especially in the crucial ones of Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and N. Africa where Islamist forces are growing very fast.
8. The U.S. will speak strongly in support of Western values like freedom and democracy and carry a tiny stick and carrot in support of those when an anti-American government or pro-Russian, etc., might emerge.
9. The U.S. will seek in all ways to divide the powers of the region to rule them, while hiding this with warm rhetoric for cooperation.
10. The U.S. will steadfastly, secretly work to slow or stop the growing alliance of Iraq with Iran, of Iran with Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Hamas, etc.
11. The U.S. will use aid, technical help, military training and all such forms of help to advance all of these goals and that of winning hearts and minds.
12. The U.S. will coordinate all of this with similar general policies to control powers and events as much as possible in the whole Central to South Central Asian region.
There are complex and less clearly defined general policies for all of Central Asia and S. Central Asia, especially Afpak.
There is not yet a clear policy on how to contain the growing threat of Chinese power and wealth in all of this and the world.
Obama et al. make all kinds of tactical moves and proclamations which involve weaving and bobbing in different directions at different times to confuse and deceive the enemies and lure friends in the region. One day he seems to sell out Israel, the next he promises eternal protection, and back and forth it goes.
The tactics vary widely but not the general goals. Keep your eyes on the actions, not the words. You will see the complex, general policy of many steadfast goals in operation.
Each of these general goals and all of their complex inter-relations are highly problematic and I believe will not in the end by attained. But it helps to keep the overall system of goals in mind in trying to evaluate what the U.S. is doing.
Jack D. Douglas [send him mail] is a retired professor of sociology from the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on all major aspects of human beings, most notably The Myth of the Welfare State.