Middle East Without America?
Patrick J. Buchanan
by Patrick J. Buchanan: Winners
and Losers From a Pharaoh's Fall
sweeping the Middle East is now coursing through Libya, Yemen, Iran
and Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based.
In all four
nations, state violence is being used to crush the rebels, and regime
survival hangs on whether security forces and the army stand behind
the government or stand aside.
A new Middle
East is dawning. What will it look like?
nation to study is Turkey, which has already gone through a democratic
and dramatic transformation.
In 2000, Turkey
was a reliable U.S. ally, a friend to Israel, an aspiring candidate
for membership in the EU. Since then, Turkey has set a different
course, welcomed by her people, that has measurably enhanced her
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's regime is far more Islamic than any Turkish
government since the caliphate. He and his Justice and Development
Party have effected constitutional reforms to curb the power of
the judiciary and military, guardians of the secular state established
by Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Scores of generals have been indicted
President George W. Bush permission to use its territory to invade
Iraq. Denied a fast track to membership in the EU, Turkey now looks
to the south and east. Relations with Syria have been repaired.
Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been welcomed in Istanbul.
To the rage
of Hillary Clinton, the Turks and Brazil cut a deal with Iran to
transfer half the low-enriched uranium at Natanz out of the country.
This was seen as undercutting U.S. policy. When the U.N. imposed
the latest sanctions on Iran, Turkey voted no.
are out of their lane," said a U.S. diplomat.
are. And as Turkey moves out of America's orbit, she is moving back
into a Muslim world much of which she ruled for centuries. A sure
sign is the bristling hostility to Israel, with which Turkey has
had close political and military ties.
At Davos in
2009, in a debate with Shimon Peres about the Gaza war, Erdogan
shouted at Israel's president, "You know well how to kill," stormed
out and flew home to a hero's welcome.
Eight of the
nine dissidents shot by Israeli commandos in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
trying to run the blockade were Turks. Erdogan's backing of the
flotilla and condemnation of Israel for a "bloody massacre" made
him and Turkey more admired in Gaza than are Iran and Ahmadinejad.
first week of demonstrations in Cairo, when Hosni Mubarak announced
he would not run again for president, America dithered, but Erdogan
declared that Mubarak should resign immediately.
people expect a very different decision from Mubarak," Erdogan said.
"The current administration does not inspire trust so far as the
democratic change wanted by the population is concerned."
canceled his February visit to Egypt.
are the crucial elements of the new Turkish policy?
First, a new
deference and respect for Islam. Second, make Turkey the champion
of the causes of the Arab and Muslim masses, foremost among which
is the cause of the Palestinian people. Third, defy the United States
and denounce Israel.
What the Turks
are about has been called "neo-Ottomanism," a 21st-century policy
to reclaim the position they held for centuries.
As the British
elbowed aside the Ottoman Turks and the Americans shouldered aside
the British after Suez, now it is America that appears to be the
receding power in the Middle East and Turkey the rising power.
American hour seems to be rapidly approaching its end.
In weeks, President
Ben Ali, our man in Tunis, was overthrown. Mubarak, our man in Egypt
for 30 years, was overthrown. Hezbollah became the real power in
the Lebanese government. The king of Jordan dismissed his prime
minister and cabinet. For the first time, voices are speaking against
the royal family, especially the king's wife.
Authority has been discredited by Wikileaks documents revealing
the concessions it was prepared to make for a tiny rump state on
the West Bank. Benjamin Netanyahu forced President Obama to back
down completely from his demands that Israel halt new construction
in East Jerusalem and all expansion of settlements on the West Bank.
The Middle East peace process is dead.
ally, the king of Bahrain, is now under siege. President Saleh of
Yemen, our ally against al-Qaida, has been forced to pledge he will
not run again in 2013, nor will his son. Pakistan is aflame with
By year's end,
all U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq, where the influence of Iran
is rising and the man behind the throne is the anti-American Muqtada
The U.S. press
is transfixed by all this, but a question arises: What vital interest
of a United States staring at bankruptcy would be imperiled if we
got out of the way, stopped fighting these countries' wars and paying
these countries' bills and let these people determine their own
future for good or ill?
J. Buchanan [send
him mail] is co-founder and editor of The
American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books,
the Right Went Wrong, and A
Republic Not An Empire. His latest book is Churchill,
Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. See his
© 2011 Creators Syndicate
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