US backbone and the middle east (was Re: Le Pen ...)
Thu, 25 Apr 2002 11:33:55 -0700
Your question re: our (US) backbone presumes we have one. (Yes, I'm
saying this to be a little provocative, but think about it for a
minute.) How many US citizens have died in the military 'engagements'
(police actions, whatever...) of the past decade? I can't pull out exact
figures but, since our little tussle with Iraq over Kuwait, it's been
precious few. Almost as many US casualties due to friendly fire,
accidents, etc. than 'real' casualties of conflict. Furthermore, the
duration of the conflicts have been getting steadily shorter with the
media coverage increasingly sensational and short-lived.
This trend begs the question, then, as to how much resolve (or backbone)
the American public really has to be involved in a long and possibly
painful engagement. The US involvement in Vietnam, where we stayed well
past our welcome (if we ever had it at all) and suffered an
unconscionable loss of life, largely undermined public support for long,
drawn out military actions requiring much sacrifice by the average
American citizen. The general reluctance to see our children die, taxes
and interest rates go up, let alone rationing of the sort that occurred
in WWII, favors the heavy handed approach to conflict that we've seen
dominate the US military agenda over the past decade or so.
Not that it hasn't been effective -- the US military has clearly 'kicked
some ass' wherever and whenever it was felt necessary in recent times.
However, it hasn't 'won the hearts and minds' of the rest of the world,
who increasingly see the US playing the role of global enforcer, whether
we're asked to or not.
If the US decides to invade Iran or Iraq, which is beginning to look
more likely with each passing week, it is questionable how much support
we would have from the rest of the world. Such action would polarize
much of the middle east against the US, not just Iran and Iraq. Although
even without such naked aggression on the part of the US, such an
alliance is not beyond the scope of reason. Without the Soviet Union
jockeying against us in the middle east there is a greater chance for a
sort of plastic unity in the region. In support of this, witness the
recent middle east congress which produced a proposal for ending the
Palistinian-Israeli conflict. Witness also the recent strengthening of
parliamentary relations between Iraq and Iran.
I could be wrong, given that my head has been buried in my own affairs
for the past month or so, but it seems that media coverage of the 'War
on Terror' is growing thin. I contend that Americans have little stomach
for extended conflicts, and even less so if it means sacrificing some
measure of their precious way of life. Given the above analysis, it is
reasonable to conclude that public support for an extended conflict with
Iran/Iraq/Other would be fleeting whence the reality of it hit home. If
this is the case, it seems extremely likely that the confrontation would
take the heavy handed approach favored in recent conflicts. The question
then beciomes whether or not the global community would stand for such
The situation calls for more analysis (hopefully by someone better
suited to it than myself), but I trust I've stirred up the pot enough
for now. I should be working on my thesis anyway... :-)
Jim Whitehead wrote:
> It seems to me that just about the only thing that could get Iraq and Iran
> to work together is an attack on either by the US. I imagine resistance
> inside Iraq would be much greater if people felt they were defending their
> homes, as opposed to just defending a looted Kuwait. Plus, they have been
> studying the last war for over ten years.
> Having Iran and Iraq at each other's throats is a cornerstone of stability
> in the Middle East. Working together, they could achieve great mischief.
> It's very conceivable that, working together, they could seize Saudi Arabia,
> Kuwair, and Qatar, and thus have a controlling block in oil.
> Faced with this, the US might actually have to ask for some sacrifices of
> its population to fight a war, in the form of conscription, higher taxes,
> and inflation. How strong is our backbone? I don't know.