I am a historian, not a tea-leaf reader. But every now and then the two occupations experience a harmonic convergence. This coming year, a randomly selected group of Americans will stand in emotionally numbed silence, listening to “Taps” being played at a military funeral. They will be mourning the loss of a family member or friend killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. The White House will launch yet another Arab-Israeli peace initiative. These talks will try to shield the Jewish State from its soon-to-be Arab majority. This diplomatic effort will collapse just as past attempts to remake reality in this troubled region have. The nuclear threat posed to Israel by an unstable Pakistan’s already existing nuclear arsenal will steal global attention from Iran’s pretensions to build one.
Oops. I’m rambling off topic. The afore-mentioned list is not prophecies, but near certainties. Actually, my New Year’s prediction for the Middle East is this.
Sometime towards the end of next year, the American public will find itself downwind of a stench so overpowering, that few will argue that it could be anything other than carrion. A cursory search will uncover the ideological corpse of Neoconservatism, rotting away in the White House basement. The autopsied remains will reveal that this belief system advocating brute force and political engineering in the Middle East, had wound its slimy tentacles around every U.S. policy decision in the region since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Its architects in the previous Administration’s Department of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz, persuaded a gullible President George W. Bush to invade Afghanistan in 2002, rather than go after Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. The latter strategy would probably have succeeded given global sympathy, and the willingness of the Muslim governments in the region to catch the culprits. Instead, the President’s advisors painted 9/11 as a battle between western civilization and Islam. They sold the 2006 invasion of Iraq, and ridding the world of Saddam Hussein as offering a cornucopia of strategic benefits. What it opened instead, was a recruiting office for Muslim terrorists, enraged at the chaos in their countries by America’s ideological fanaticism. With the U.S. having crushed Iran’s most formidable rival, Iraq, the Islamic Republic became the dominant actor in the region, along with its nuclear ambitions.
The Obama Administration's olfactory glands may have grown accustomed to Neoconservatism's putrid emanations. They don't yet appear to know that this ideology advocating perpetual warfare in defense of American interpretations of liberal democracy is dead. No other rational explanation makes sense for the President to have decided to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. The more strategic move would have been to take advantage of the opening made by the Taliban, reported in December 4’s Wall Street Journal. The indigenous Afghan party intimated that they might end their association with the international terrorist network, al-Qaeda in exchange for the removal of U.S. troops from their country. The possibility of negotiations with the Taliban would remove yet another foul odor from our presence, Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's corrupt President.
Okay. Maybe what I am offering is not a prediction. It is a soul-rooted yearning that the U.S. bury its failed Neoconservative policies before its necrotic odor asphyxiates us all.