Security, Middle East
Americans should be pleased that the Russians are now being drawn into what could prove to be a long and costly effort to “do something” in the Middle East.
Remember the days when any sign of growing tensions in the Middle East, not to mention a new act of violence involving Arabs and Israelis, would have immediately triggered pressure on Washington to “do something” as soon as possible.
Doing nothing, U.S. officials were warned, could risk a full-blown regional war, outside intervention by global adversaries, oil embargoes, the collapse of pro-American Arab regimes, the survival of Israel, and perhaps even the end of the world as we know it.
As the rest of the nation’s international and domestic problems would be placed on the policy backburner, the U.S. president would make urgent phone calls to Middle Eastern leaders, as he and the rest of Washington would consider sending the Marines, dispatching American envoys to the Middle East, launching another “peace process” and perhaps even convening another “peace conference.”
This kind of American diplomatic hyperactivity in the Middle East would be followed by the deployment of U.S. peacekeeping troops and the provision of huge financial assistance packages, with the Americans being drawn into never-ending efforts to resolve unresolvable conflicts, continuing to raise the costs of U.S. intervention in the Middle East.
And you could always count on America’s European allies, in another demonstration of their free-riding on American power, to press the United States to “do something” and then criticize Washington’s policies as a way of pandering to the Middle Easterners (“See, we aren’t as pro-Israeli as the Americans”).
Hence, what started as the Israeli plan to do regime change in Beirut and oust the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Lebanon in 1982, forced the Reagan administration to intervene directly in the Lebanese civil war, including by deploying American peacekeepers. That, in turn, resulted in the killing of 241 U.S. peacekeepers and fifty-eight French peacekeepers by terrorists with ties to Iran—and to a humiliating American withdrawal from Lebanon.
More recently in 2006, when then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Malaysia, attending a major security forum hosted by its allies in Southeast Asia, the trip to Kuala Lumpur proved to be nothing more than a short stopover in between her extensive and more important efforts to deal with the mounting violence in the Middle East.