End America's Middle East Engagement
The Roman philosopher Seneca observed, "It is human to err, but stupid to persist." It has been a serious mistake to get involved in the Middle East the way America did after the activation of NATO and its make-believe "success" in the Balkans in the decade of the 1990s. The war in Afghanistan is lost; Iraq is rapidly leaving our sphere of influence; Pakistan, in fact, has been out of reach all along. Iran is nearing possession of the atomic bomb. Most of all, the majority of people of the Islamic faith there do not want us in their houses and, as a consequence, many fall for the siren songs of jihadists.
Why do we persist?
The "Arab Spring" has been an unquestionable mirage. At best, it may take a couple of generations of persevering emancipation and sincere strivings by Arabic secular and religious elites for the current dark winter of cultural, social, and religious conditions to give in to the sunshine of real democracy, human dignity, pervasive tolerance, and the rule of law. Enhanced and fortified by common sense, history irrefutably attests to this imperative.
So what do we do now?
Based on cost vs. benefits, we do not need Arab oil. We also do not need boots on the ground in the region, and we do not need false and costly friendships. There are other ways to project our geopolitical presence there.
First, let's pull out our brave military, which is suffering increasing casualties and has been once again forced by politicians to be in a no-win position. Secondly, stop immediately throwing good money after bad -- stop any and all aid to fraudulent friends in the region. Just with these two decisions, we will save trillions of dollars in a short time and use them for the urgent and greatly needed rebuilding of America. Thirdly, determinedly announce and clearly commit to mercilessly defend the survival of a few remaining true friends in the region, such as Israel. This can be achieved by our Navy and Air Force, which are more than sufficient for this task if given a free hand.
Among the first acts of the president next year should be to order a full and comprehensive withdrawal from the Middle East along the aforementioned lines. Moreover, he would declare that the USA will leave the region to its own people and will let them sort out and resolve their historical differences, such as the divide between Sunnis and Shiites, geopolitical problems of borders, and the future of entrenched dictators and current autocratic regimes. America will focus its energies and depleting resources on rebuilding our country, which is in a dire need of major overhaul.
Since we are sincerely cutting ties with the Arab world and would leave it to them to run it, we expect and will enforce with all our might corresponding reciprocity. Thus, any violent jihad and terrorism carried out against us will be most severely and promptly punished, with dire consequences for any country, political government, or religious or other organization or individual involved with these hostile and unprovoked activities. Incidentally, for this we have resources and ability, but we need the will.
The benefits of our withdrawal from the Middle East in tangible terms -- human and other resources -- are enormous but still quantifiable. The other benefits are intangible but in the long run more significant. It is indisputable that our deep involvement in the Arab quagmire has had mostly unexpected but extremely serious consequences to our way of life. Salman Rushdie simply condensed one key problem: "The Satanic Verses could not be published today" (Financial Times, September 22, 2012). Our fundamental individual and, hence, collective liberties have been radically and dangerously diminished and debased. This insidious process that started accelerating after the 9/11 tragedy must be arrested and reversed, or in not too distant future, we and our children will live in a world of ever-expanding authoritarian/totalitarian rules with our liberties and rights severely limited and eventually curtailed.
There is yet another rather critical issue inseparably related to our current posture toward the Middle East and Islam. It is the first time in history that Muslims are massively emigrating and peacefully populating lands of Europe and America. In the context of the above stated recommendations, this matter must be rationally and openly faced and resolutely resolved also. Common sense demands that if someone is accepted to move into our house to live with us, that party must live by the existing house rules. Followers of Islam and others who settle in the West must not expect and be led to believe that they may diminish or alter or do away with Western political, social, cultural, and economic mores to suit their faith. For this unique and noble heritage our ancestors paid an incalculable and heavy historical price over the past millennium. Should we forfeit it or water it down, we will no longer be we.
The American president who would rally America and Europe and bring along the rest of the world to accept this epochal course of actions along the above recommended lines would be a true visionary and an authentic statesman, not a politician. He would be caring for future generations and not for future elections. His place in world history would be comparable to none.