The key take-away of the recent events in the middle east, for me, is that whatever we were trying to do in the Muslim world, it is now in shambles. Whether one wants to take the leftwing/Islamist view that Islam is angered by our wrongdoing or if one wishes to point out that Islam has been the aggressor for more than a thousand years is immaterial – whether it is war or the olive branch we were trying to bring to the Muslim world, both our war and peace policies have failed. We have no victorious war while also having no peace. However we go forward, we should go forward as a blank slate. The first thing for us to do, then, is to figure out what we want.
The Muslim world is a billion people sitting on a strategic crossroads and also containing a very large amount of the exceptionally valuable substance, oil. This reality is just there – it can’t be argued with. Whatever we might want, our policy has to take in to consideration that it is there and has to be dealt with. So, the first thing we can dispose of is any concept that we can just entirely walk away and pretend it doesn’t matter. For good or ill, the United States will be involved in the affairs of the Muslim world. That said, we still have to define what we want our involvement to be.
In my view, while we must remain involved, it is best that our involvement become as light as possible. As it stands right now, Islam seethes with anger at the United States (justified or not) and the more deeply involved we remain the more targets there are for this ire. Complete abandonment of the Muslim world is not possible, but we should make our footprint in the Muslim world as small as possible. Don’t have a lot of embassies and consulates; and what facilities we do have must be small, defensible and easy to evacuate. We should greatly restrict American travel to the Muslim world while also greatly reducing Muslim travel to the United States. What business we need to contract with the Muslim world – which mostly, after all, has to do with purchasing oil – can be done from stand-off positions. Aid we can still provide, but it should as far as possible not be delivered on the ground by Americans (there are plenty of NGOs around the world which maintain good relations with people and governments in the Muslim world who can be used as conduits for our aid while also keeping the amount of graft down to a minimum); and it must not ever be delivered directly to Muslim governments which have proven all too prone to siphoning it off for the enrichment of government and its cronies. Naturally, this change in policy entails a complete military withdrawal from the region – leave not one soldier, sailor, airman or Marine on the soil of a Muslim land, not even as part of a UN force.
We cannot, in the foreseeable future, count on a change of heart in the Muslim world towards the United States. Our fault, their fault, nobody’s fault, the deeds are done – the enmity is there and deeply ingrained. Only a withdrawal on our part can set the stage for, perhaps, a change of heart at a future date. It is to be hoped that this will come about. I don’t hold out much hope that it will, but I can’t see anything we can do on the ground in the Muslim world in the current conditions which will change anything except for the worse.
That said, we must also make it clear that our withdrawal does not mean our surrender. Whether its a majority of Islam or just a tiny minority, there is within the Muslim world a belief that we have lost all honor and courage and that Islamic efforts can bring about the total downfall of the United States. As we withdraw, we can expect that that part of Islam which dreams of our death will be encouraged. This is just in the nature of things. People who believe like that will attempt to act upon that belief, whether they are 99 out of 100 Muslims or just 1 out of 100. Given this, we must be prepared if challenged to respond vigorously.
This vigorous response should be carefully calculated to do the least possible harm to the average Muslim (most of whom are poor and have zero say in the making of policy) while still doing enough harm to the leadership of the offending Muslim nation to make them think twice about such a gamble. Without engaging ground forces and keeping air force personnel as far away as possible, it is within our technical capability to destroy major military targets, homes of the leadership – and the leaders, themselves, as targets present themselves (and we should make it clear that we won’t forget…that even if its years after the offense, if we find a leader of that offending nation in an environment we can target, we’ll do it…heck, just in the fact that a lot of Muslim leaders spend time in European fleshpots would give us plenty of such opportunities).
If there turns out to be another major terrorist attack upon the United States after we have withdrawn, then it will have to be a matter for major war. The thing to keep in mind here is that while we view Egypt and Syria and Turkey and Iran as different nations, the sort of people who attack us, don’t. They view the Muslim world as a single entity. Our great strategic mistake in the post-9/11 world was to forget this. So, we went in to Afghanistan and Iraq and fought there, while our enemies – who, once again, view the whole thing as a unity – were safe in Iran and Syria and able to supply and support those fighting us in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon the morrow of another 9/11-style attack, the proper response would be to declare war upon every Muslim-majority nation in the world and then conquer the whole Muslim world. Remember, we got out – we were no longer in Muslim lands. We were no longer supporting any Muslim government good, bad or indifferent. We were hands-off and staying away. If in such a circumstance we are hit with a 9/11-style attack, it would be absolutely along the lines of the Pearl Harbor attack – an unprovoked attack upon a nation which was giving no offense worthy of war. And as in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor we resolved to so beat Japan that the Japanese would never resort to war with us again, so we would have to resolve regarding the Muslim world if they hit us again like that.
As for Israel, I know that as long as it exists there will be large numbers of people in the Muslim world who hate it, and hate us for its existence. The counsels to abandon Israel are not for me. Others may hold to such views, but I will never willingly be part of a second Holocaust. I will also never agree that a democratic State should be conquered by a non-democratic State. Israel, warts and all, is part of our world and if we were to cravenly allow her to be destroyed then it would show that we are done as a people and its only a matter of time before we are actually invaded and conquered and made in to slaves. I’ll have none of that. Short of putting US ground forces in to Israel, I want us to do everything we can to secure a lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors – but the bottom line on that is that peace can be made in an instant, if the Muslims who control things will it. No truer statement has been said that if Israel lays down her arms, it is the end of Israel while if the Muslims lay down theirs, it is peace in the middle east. No Israeli army will ever march in aggressive war on Damascus or Cairo – but we know that a Muslim army would aggressively march on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv if they thought for a moment they could take the places.
These are just my views and I fully admit that I might be mistaken – but I’m tired of dealing with the endless bloodshed and bestial cruelty of the place. I freely admit that at least a large number of Muslims hate us and want us to go away and I’m willing to oblige them. I’m still willing to help as we may the poor, suffering people of the Muslim world but outside of food and medical aid, there is not much I can see us successfully doing – we certainly have learned that even if we midwife a democratic system it will merely throw up something worse than before. My heart goes out to the Christian populations of the Muslim world so cruelly oppressed by Muslim fanatics. But short of war I cannot bring succor to them – I can only offer them asylum in the United States, if they want it. My solution proposed here is not perfect – but I believe it just and justified by events…and it sets a stage where either genuine peace can slowly grow between the United States and Islam, or the Muslim world, itself, will decide upon a suicidal attack upon us…in either case, the problem will eventually be solved.