“Let’s recap the state of America’s commitments in the Middle East,” suggests Ross Douthat in his Saturday column at The New York Times:
Our military is fighting in a tacit alliance with Iranian proxies in Iraq, even as it assists in a campaign against Iranian-backed forces in Yemen. We are formally committed to regime change in Syria, but we’re intervening against the regime’s Islamist enemies. Our strongest allies, officially, are still Israel and Saudi Arabia, but we’re busy alienating them by pushing for détente with Iran. And please don’t mention Libya or Al Qaeda — you’ll confuse everyone even more.
…The Saudi government enforces harsh punishments for very minor offenses, like whipping a woman for sending a text message about the “wrong” kind of mosque service. Saudi Arabia even frequently conducts public beheadings of criminals guilty of acts including political dissidence, a trademark move of—you guessed it—ISIS.
Needless to say, these aren’t the greatest partners to have if promoting human rights (and not being total hypocrites) in the Middle East is part of American strategy—and whether an overall strategy exists at all is, at this point, far from clear.
What is clear is that our hodgepodge of entanglements in the Middle East makes less sense than ever and still isn’t bringing peace to the region.
As I’ve written before, I don’t know how to “fix” the Iraq (and Yemen, and Syria, and…well, this column has a word limit so I’ll stop there). But I do know that what we’re doing—what we’ve been doing for more than decade now—isn’t working. And rather than standing as a beacon of hope and liberty for the world, American foreign policy has become a convoluted, counterproductive mishmash of wars with no evident end or purpose in site.
When you’ve stuck your nose into so many nations’ business that you’re fighting yourself, it’s time to just come home.
Read the full article here.