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Sarwar Kashmeri Headshot

Time for America's Middle East Allies to Forge Their Own Destinies

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Baghdad is 900 miles from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 500 miles from Amman, Jordan; 300 miles from Kuwait, and 1000 miles from Ankara, Turkey, countries that are allies of the United States, and armed to the teeth with American weapons. With over 700,000 soldiers, 6000 tanks, 2000 warplanes, and some 5000 conventional and rocket launched artillery pieces between them they vastly outnumber and outgun the forces of the so-called Independent State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that is determined to set up a medieval brutal Caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq.

If these heavily armed American allies that are minutes away from the killing fields of Iraq choose not to step in and rectify the rapidly unfolding chaos in their midst, why should the United States, some 7000 miles from Iraq spill its blood and treasure in another futile quest to remake the Middle East for them? A futile quest that has over the last decade chewed up the minds and bodies of 56,000 brave American soldiers, including some 4,700 killed.

Over a trillion dollars have been spent over the last 12 years in the disastrous 2003 American invasion of Iraq and its attempt to remake the Middle East. Estimates are that a similar amount will be required over the next two decades to care for the American soldiers who have thankfully survived the war in Iraq and returned to their anguished families.

Shouldn't the old adage about forcing Israelis and Palestinians to make peace -- we cannot want peace between them more than they can -- also apply to the Middle East? Of course it should. America cannot want a stable Middle East more than the people that live there, most of whom are awash with petrodollars and can easily afford to spend the billions that will be required to straighten out the mess in their backyard, if they cared enough to do it.

Then there are the consequences of America spending its political and material capital in distant lands under the ever more ephemeral mantle of global leadership. Consequences that directly and negatively impact Americans. For instance, The Financial Times, on April 28, 2014, reported that that the United States will have to spend $3.6 trillion by 2020 to bring America's crumbling infrastructure to where it should be today. That is almost twice the amount spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Or consider that the European Union and South Korea have just announced a deal to join forces and develop the next generation (5G) of mobile Internet Networks. The Financial Times said:

...the deal is a boost for the European telecoms industry in particular, which is struggling with declining revenues and lagging behind the US and Asia in providing the current 4G standard.

Should not the FT have been reporting that the next generation of the Internet is being led by the United States so that its lead in the technologies that will create tomorrow's jobs will be unbroken? Or reporting that the political logjam in Washington has given way to an agreement to fix America's infrastructure to ensure the United States has some chance to compete with the world's rapidly rising commercial powers with their shiny new infrastructure and highly educated populations with which Americans now have to compete?

The Obama doctrine enumerated at West Point has it exactly right:

...when issues of global concern arise ...that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten ...in such circumstances, we should not go it alone...in such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed, more likely to be sustained, less likely to lead to costly mistakes.

The United States should use the 300 soldiers who are on their way to Iraq to stiffen its allies spines and to generate collective action to fight the forces of evil now set loose in the Middle East. America can help with this endeavor, but the heavy lifting must be the responsibility of America's Middle East Allies. If they care about their future security and stability, it is high time to demonstrate it by taking on the leadership in this fight. Their fight.