President Barack Obama wants to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with bombing–supported by Special Forces and ground troops from “friendly” Islamic regimes.
Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans want to wage full-scale war against ISIS with massive numbers of regular forces.
But the United States has a third alternative to attain peace–for itself–in the Middle East. It is one that will demand radical changes in its approach to both Islamic regimes and Israel.
First, embark on a crash program to develop alternatives to oil.
The Islamic world offers only one reason for American concern: oil.
Yet its consumption threatens the future of the world through global warming. And it keeps America tethered to regimes that are fundamentally unstable and hostile to the West.
Second, with alternatives to fossil fuels, America can end its relationship with Islamic regimes.
That means putting an end to spending billions of dollars every year to prop up dictatorial, unpopular regimes like those in Iraq and Egypt. And it also means stopping the supply of big-ticket military hardware (like fighter planes and missiles) to such Islamic regimes.
Third, end the “permanent bodyguard” relationship with Israel.
Every nation--including Israel–has the absolute right to defend itself from aggression. But no nation–including Israel–should have the right to expect another nation to act as its permanent bodyguard.
Flag of Israel
But there is another reason many Americans feel committed to Israel. And it has nothing to do with concern for the fates of Israelis.
It lies in the mythology of the Christian Right: Many fundamentalist Christians believe that, for Jesus Christ to awaken from his 2,000-year slumber, Israel must first re-conquer every inch of territory it supposedly held during the reign of Kings David and Solomon.
Right-wing Christian fantasy: Dead man hovering
This is the view of many Right-wing members of the House of Representatives and Senate. It should be obvious that people who hold such totally irrational views shouldn’t be allowed to hold public office.
Unfortunately, such unbalanced views are shared by millions of equally irrational evangelical Christians.
Fourth, accept that America faces a no-win situation with Israelis and Islamics.
Since the Arabs and Israelis hate each other, each side constantly tries to sway American support in its direction.
Every step the United States takes to defend Israel–diplomatically or militarily–ignites hatred of Americans among Islamics.
And every step–diplomatically or militarily–the United States takes to improve its relations with Islamic countries convinces Israelis that they’re being “sold out.”
In short: The United States is like a giant who has one foot stuck in Israel and the other stuck in any Islamic country–leaving his private parts fully exposed to whichever side wants to take a shot at them.
Fifth, erect a “Sand Curtain” around the Middle East.
For 44 years–1947 to 1991–the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a Cold War. Essentially, the United States drew a ring around the Soviet Union–including those nations its armies had seized following the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
The United States said, in effect: “We can’t liberate the countries you’re now occupying”–because trying to do so would have triggered a nuclear World War III. “But we won’t allow you to occupy and enslave any other countries. And if you try to do so, it will mean total war.”
That’s why the United States did nothing to aid Hungarians when they rose up against their Soviet occupiers in 1956. That rebellion was quickly and brutally crushed.
And that’s why America stood by when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague in 1968 when Czechoslovakia dared to relax controls over its citizens.
Sixth, stop fretting–and intervening–every time a new outbreak of barbarism occurs in the Middle East.
America would withdraw all of its forces from the Middle East–but keep a good portion stationed in Europe.
It would then publicly announce: “From now on, you are the masters of your own destinies–so long as what you do affects only those of you living in the Middle East.
“We recognize that barbarism and violence have always been a part of life in the Middle East. And we don’t expect this to change.
“So go ahead and destroy as many of your own citizens as you wish–either because they’re Jewish or Christians, or because Sunni Muslims hate Shiite Muslims and Shiite Muslims hate Sunni Muslims.
“Just don’t do anything that poses a threat to those living outside your barbaric lands. In short: Europe and the United States are strictly off-limits to you.
“And if you aim your aggression at either, we will consider this an act of war and use all the weapons at our disposal–including nuclear ones–to wipe you from the face of the Earth.“
The United States cannot enforce peace between Islamics and Israelis.
Nor between Christians and Islamics.
Nor between Islamics and Islamics.
But it can impose an embargo to confine such barbarism to only the Middle East.