The Middle East Conundrum — and what it means for the U.S.

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No Democrat with a conscience, or a brain for that matter, should vote to authorize the president’s request to fund the Syrian rebels in a fight against ISIS. This is a calculated trip-wire into a broader open-ended conflict that will become in its ultimate evolution an endless Middle East political and military quagmire for the United States.

I say calculated, because our so-called allies in the region — the Saudis, the Arab Emirates and the Jordanians — would love to see us bear the burden in combating a group that through the weird alchemy of Middle East politics has become a direct and strategic threat to all their interests.

We’ve seen this movie before, and are we really that stupid? Americans need to understand that we are the outsider, the salient ingredient in a toxic Islamic brew. We can never really be sure who the good guys are in this strange and bizarre Arabian Night’s tragedy. Who is Aladdin? And where is the magic flying carpet?

A year ago, based on the popular Washington mythology, we were suppose to arm the “Syrian Moderates” — as mythological a group as Aladdin — to fight the dictator Assad and his repugnant regime. Now the same “moderates”, a year later — again through that special Middle East alchemy — have morphed into the Islamist state of ISIL, supposedly causing —  with the help of captured American tanks and military equipment —  Americans to wake in the middle of the night with nightmare visions of beheadings and other terrorist horrors.

We’re Americans. We have our own culture, our own politics and religion. We don’t necessarily have to be smart enough to understand all the subtleties and nuances of the Byzantine labyrinth that is Middle Eastern politics, the deep-seated religious hatreds and political animosities that drive the violence in that region. But we do need to be smart enough — if we’re going to commit further blood and treasure to this unending holocaust — to know who our real allies are. And more important, we need to have a clear understanding just what our long-range strategic interests are in the region. And let me be clear, nation building in the Middle East should not be a long-term American goal. We have more pressing priorities right here in America, like providing a good, decent paying job for every American who wants to work. Helping our young people get a good education, and a promising (non-mortgaged) start in life.

The day is fast coming when we will no longer be dependent on foreign oil. And this is something that we need to factor into our long-term calculus — do we want to go “all in” in a regional conflict in which we have no serious economic or strategic interests, a centuries old religious war that we don’t even understand.

Tell the average American — who right now is totally immersed in the on-going cable T.V. drama of Ray Rice’s domestic life — that the Imam Husayn, the grand-son of the prophet Muhammad, was killed in a desperate battle at Karbala in A.D. 680, on his way to Najaf to overthrow the ruling Sunni caliphate of the Umayyid sheiks, and they’ll say to you, quite honestly, who gives a shit? Call it gross insensitivity, common ignorance, or just native indifference; but this is precisely why we have no business trying to mediate matters in the Middle East.

Unless you’re an American who understands and can articulate to your girlfriends in the Saturday morning coffee clatch — or a guy who can explain to his buddies in the Friday night poker game — why this understanding of the Muslim psyche is so important to all Americans — and how it might bear on your own personal freedom and liberty — you don’t understand the Middle East conflict. Why these people are seemingly happy, and willing — even when it threatens to destroy their own societies, and their whole native culture — to keep on killing one another in the cause of a weary, centuries old religious vendetta.

We tend in the West — with a pronounced sense of our own superiority — to look down on these countries because they don’t share our sense of values, and so it’s easy sometimes to think them hopelessly backward. We forget, however, that so far our (America’s) major contributions to the culture and art of Western civilization have been relatively modest — no monumental buildings, no great works of art, no aqueducts or ancient highways — mostly just basketball, rap music and the hula-hoop. Oh, but I forget — the mall! We did invent the shopping mall, the Kardashians, and the modern assembly line.

Americans need to stop and think about just what we are committing to. And the president needs to stop and think. This is the dumbest thing — escalating our involvement in a deeper and even more convoluted Middle eastern conflict, in spite of the tragic and grotesque beheadings of two U.S. journalists — that we as a country can do.

President Obama is wrong in this. And like I said, no democrat with a brain or conscience (and I mean that —  the democrat —  with a small “d”) should support this authorization. If you consider yourself a patriotic American — then don’t surrender your country, your future and your prosperity to the idiots and war-mongers in Washington. These are people who wash their hands in blood — other people’s blood every day —  in the advancement of the military-industrial complex.

I’m a liberal Democrat, but President Obama is wrong on this. To say that Obama is wrong, is not to say, however, that the nut-case neo-con Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham are right. This transcends and is more important than simple politics, and is something that should not be decided along pure party lines. Rather, this is an issue that goes to the heart of what we stand for as a people and a nation. This choice defines us, the values that we regard and cherish as a freedom loving and God fearing people. We can’t — nor should we as Americans — allow the stirring words of a practiced political orator — in a time of stress and turmoil — bully us to betray our better instincts, our shared sense of right and wrong, and own deeply imbued concepts of what is just and honorable in a troubled world.

Expanding our role in the on-going conflict in the Middle east is not in our best interests, nor will it help move the countries of the region toward an earlier and more peaceful resolution of their shared disagreements and particular problems.

The politicians we have in Washington today are all (regardless of political stripe) a bunch of unconscionable assholes, more concerned with themselves and their own re-election — the corporations, the big bankers and the money funding PACs who support them — than they are with the goals and aspirations of this country and the hard-working average Americans who elected them.

If you’re a conscientious American, no matter the party, don’t knowingly acquiesce by letting your senator or representative in the house sanction with their (your vote) a further expansion of our involvement in the troubles in the Middle East. If President Obama really wants to do this, then force him to do it on his own executive authority so the final judgment of history falls on him. Don’t willingly let yourself be party to further atrocity in the Middle East.

The Money Trader

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