Cairo is aflame again, with scores of protesters killed, bloody fruit of an Arab Spring that keeps yielding more death than democracy. As tolls rise, it is past time to rethink the Bush-Cheney Neocon doctrine of a strong America bestowing freedom on benighted nations across the world.
Now the Joint Chiefs give Congress a report that overthrowing Bashar al-Assad in Syria would be “a vast undertaking, costing billions of dollars, and could backfire on the United States...Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”
John McCain, of course, dislikes that assessment, but the reality of the past decade is expenditure of American blood and treasure in the Middle East, from Iraq to Afghanistan and elsewhere with, to put it charitably, mixed results at best.
No responsible critic would advocate, in the light of a nuclear Pakistan and wannabe Iran, complete withdrawal from the region, but isn’t it past time for a lighter footprint?
Even the President of the Arab American Institute concedes that “the region is on a path leading to self-destruction. What, if anything, can be done to reverse course?
“Syria is committing suicide--tearing itself asunder in a civil war that, with the support and prodding of outside forces, has increasingly become an exercise in sectarian blood-letting. American combat forces may have left Iraq, but the country has not found a way to make peace with itself. Daily terrorist bombings are killing scores of civilians, while a dysfunctional sectarian government appears to be focused more on prosecuting and persecuting its opponents than providing for the needs of its people...
”Lebanon, reeling from the pressure emanating from Syria next door, is once again teetering on the brink of civil conflict. Meanwhile, the conflicts raging around Jordan are having a destabilizing impact with that country receiving yet another massive influx of refugees.”
What the region needs now, the Arab spokesman asserts, is “a unified revolt against sectarian division and recognition of the futility of its self-destructive path.”
Before outsiders can truly help in that undertaking, the US is like a club-footed giant in the region, stumbling around with the best of intentions but more likely to bring damage than democracy with its blundering attempts to be helpful.
Haven’t we reached a tipping point?