Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Should The Middle East Trust The United States?

David Ignatius, Washington Post: Why the Middle East knows not to trust the United States

When the United States fights its wars in the Middle East, it has a nasty habit of recruiting local forces as proxies and then jettisoning them when the going gets tough or regional politics intervene.

This pattern of “seduction and abandonment” is one of our least endearing characteristics. It’s one reason the United States is mistrusted in the Middle East. We don’t stick by the people who take risks on our behalf in Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and elsewhere. And now, I fear, this syndrome is happening again in Syria, as a Kurdish militia group known as the YPG, which has been the United States’ best ally against the Islamic State, gets pounded by the Turkish military.

The YPG is a special case for me because I had a chance to meet some of their fighters in May at a secret U.S. Special Operations forces training camp in northern Syria. They described battling to the last man — and sometimes woman — as they drove the Islamic State from its strongholds. Special Ops officers embedded with the YPG recounted their battlefield exploits with deep respect, expressing what one called “the brotherhood of the close fight.”

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This issue that the U.S. will "walk away if the going gets tough" is pervasive and accepted as a given by many people in the world. I first noticed this in the 1990s .... and it has certainly expanded significantly in the past few years. Is this perception justified .... I would have to say yes. The reason why is simple .... there is little U.S. public support for a greater (and more active) U.S. foreign policy, and it is the public that American politicians are listening to. The international community knows that and in turn are sensitive to what the American public is thinking .... and are now responding in kind. On the flip side is Russia's Putin .... and in this regard there is no doubt in the international community that Putin will stick by Russia's friends and allies.


Carl said...

Somehow, I think that the fact that our interventions have been based on lies and that somewhere north of 1 million people have died as a result, and a couple of tens of millions more emiserated is probably a bigger factor as to why people in the MIddle East don't like us. Leave it to David Ignatius to ignore that inconvenient reality.

Publius said...

The United States also has the disadvantage that it has several goals and policies that conflict with each other. Examples:

1. The United States wants to destroy ISIS. The Kurds, Turkey, the Iraqi Government, some Shiite militias in Iraq, Iran, the Syrian Government, some of the rebels in Syria, share this goal.

2. But the actors in that coalition are hopelessly divided regarding everything else:

a. Kurds want a Kurdish state. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran oppose this.

b. The Syrian rebels want to topple Assad. Assad, Iran, Russia, various Siite militias, hezbollah, etc. oppose this.

c. The Kurds will fight Assad to the extent needed to have a Kurdish state. But overthrowing Assad is not their primary purpose.

d. The United States likely would favor a Kurdish state, but also supports the territorial integrity of Turkey and Iraq. The United States also fears that the rump Iraq left after the Kurds secede would be more easily dominated by Iran.

There are other examples, but the foregoing list is sufficient to show that the United States has multiple objectives that cannot be reconciled. Accordingly, U.S. policy is inevitably incoherent in the Middle East. This explains why the United States is not trustworthy at this point.

Russia has a much more coherent set of goals in the Middle East. It is therefore easier for Russia to maintain stable, coherent policies there. This enables them to back their allies consistently.

aaa said...

Thanks for posting, Publius. I always learn from your comments.