Thursday, May 01, 2008

Middle East muddled

By Carol Gee

The next President of the United States must decide, as has "The Decider" for the past 7 1/2 years, what to do in the Middle East. If I were the next POTUS, what would I do? My decisions, lame as they would be, couldn't possibly be any more disastrous than those of our current president (OCP). So why not play with some ideas in the dark, operating strictly from idealism and memory?

Resource People -- Decide which leaders have a sense of history as well as a clear vision for the 21st century. Do background checks for any trace of neocon leanings on everyone to be considered. Lee Hamilton, Sam Nunn, Bill Richardson, Madelaine Albright, President Carter and Chuck Hagel are names that come quickly to mind. Think tanks, such as the New America Foundation and others might be good resources for smart people with previous experience and who speak the languages.

The Military -- Priority Number One must be resetting towards readiness. Rename the missions from aggression to U.S. national security and military preparedness. Priority Number Two must be de-funding unneeded Cold War weapons systems. Priority Number Three must be rebuilding the Navy as a 2009 resource for national defense. Priority Number Four must be to reassign people in the armed services to purely military duties, and non-military personnel from other government departments to all other non-combat functions. Just because the military can do something does not mean it should be the ones to do it.

Realistic Geography -- The Middle East consists of several significant countries in addition to Israel, Iraq, and Iran. The attention alphabet must be expanded beyond the 'I's to include -- among others -- Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, and the rich countries of the GCC. The United States can be very helpful and involved in ways that make much more sense that what we have been doing for the past few years.

Islam's Needs -- U.S. foreign policy must consider the rights of Islamic nations to self-determination. We need to cease and desist from occupations, illegal incursions and proclamations. The United States must learn to tell the difference between religion, politics, and the tactics of terrorists.

Energy Considerations -- Decisions must not be made based upon energy dependence on Middle Eastern countries. The United States must embark on a crash program of enabling non-polluting alternative sources of energy, saving petroleum reserves for lubrication. The transition must become a national project, as World War II was a national project to which everyone contributed.

International Sensibilities -- We must humbly reconcile with the family of nations. We should ask them what kind of help would be most useful, nation by nation. And we must learn to ask for their help with our needs as well. Reciprocity would not be a bad stance, for a change.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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