It is be very difficult for the American people to know what approach we should take in the Middle East. We have just ended one war that killed too many American soldiers, maimed too many others, and killed too many Iraqis also. We are still involved in another costly war where more American soldiers are dying or coming home with extreme injuries they must learn to live with. We haven’t exactly been appreciated in our role as “liberators” who saved Iraq and Afghanistan from what basically amounted to “domestic violence”; from an extreme leader in the case of Iraq and an extreme religious sect in the case of Afghanistan. Of course we were accidental “liberators” who interfered in domestic violence because it was spilling over into attacks on America and Europe, in increasingly escalating terrorist activities that we could not afford to ignore. We do seem to have bought ourselves a temporary lull in explosive attacks outside of the Middle East. How long this will last we cannot say as the hate that lies behind terrorist attacks does not seem to have abated.
Now, as we prepare to leave Afghanistan and amid the irony of having the troops we trained kill their trainers, we are facing new trials in the Middle East. In Libya our ambassador was murdered with malice, it seems, and in Syria we have an absolutely sorrowful mess, with innocent people dying every day and a leader basically committing genocide against his people in order to retain power. If Assad wins now, Syria will probably be locked down tighter than a maximum security prison. Egypt is now a Muslim nation and it is one of our greatest dilemmas right now to learn how to distinguish the extremists who hate America from the moderates who would be happy to try peaceful coexistence. And we have Iran, Iran, Iran, with a government that seems to enjoy taunting America and Israel and taking us all to the edge of war. I don’t know about you, but I am not a “hawk”. I do not want another war in the Middle East right now. We need some time to recoup from the last 11 years and more. We need to let the troops who fought so bravely retire to a more peaceful life with their families. We need to train up new troops who will be fresh and ready to go at some future date. Do we have any time to catch our breath? Will we have to come up with a strong response to the red line drawn by Israel in relation to Iran’s nuclear goals? Will we send a drone or do a pre-emptive strike? Will it be enough to almost send a drone or threaten to do a pre-emptive strike? What does Israel have in mind in response to the red line? I’m certain that if a stern response becomes absolutely necessary then America will do what it must.
Is there a quick way to end hostilities between American (and other western nations) and the Middle Eastern nations where terrorists find safe harbor to harry surrounding countries? Will it take decades to learn to share our crowded and suddenly small planet and to accept each others differences? We want to see families in the Middle East living ordinary lives in the home towns they love but with the rights they deserve.
As for why we don’t know why our President didn’t realize or didn’t share that the death of Chris Stevens in Libya was the result of a terrorist attack, I only know what we are told by news outlets. Was this situation set up to make Obama look clueless so close to the election? Anything is possible. Were our national security agencies guilty of withholding information? Why would they do this? Did Obama chose to ignore the intelligence for some reason? If so, what reason? We’ll probably learn the truth about this some day. Could it have been prevented? That we will never really know. It is clear that we did not believe our Ambassador to Libya was in imminent danger and it was a very sobering lesson to learn.
It is clear that living for decades with the uncertainties we are facing in the Middle East recalls the years of the cold war and doesn’t sit comfortably with any of us who lived through those times. It appears that these particular tensions will resolve slowly, unless the red line kills us all. Most of us, except for a few warmongers, don’t have a clue about what America should do. We are dreaming of peaceful coexistence, however, we accept that we may not get this particular outcome at this particular time.