A Clear and Concise Guide to U.S. Policy in the Middle East, by Robert Gore

The one simple thing about the Middle East is that there are two main sects of the dominant Islamic religion: the Shi’a, or Shiites, and the Sunnis. This split reflects differing interpretations over who was the rightful successor to Mohammad, the founder of Islam. Sunnis are in the majority, about 85 to 90 percent of Islam. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan the United Arab Emirates, and the Islamic State are Sunni. Iran, Iraq, and Syria are Shiite.

In Syria, the US considers both Shiite Bashar al-Assad’s government and the Sunni Islamic State to be enemies. Our Sunni allies in the fight against Sunni Islamic State, notably Sunni Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, have pinky sworn to help us fight them, but would really like us to take out Shiite Bashar Assad. Our Shiite ally in the fight against the Sunni Islamic State, Iraq, wants us to take out the Islamic State, but leave Shiite Assad alone. However, Iraq has a large Sunni population in central Iraq that did not put up much of a fight when the Sunni Islamic State rolled over it. Shiite Iran is Best Friends Forever with Shiite Iraq and Shiite Syria, and used to be our worst enemy. However, now that Shiite Iran has joined the fight against the Sunni Islamic State, it is more like a frenemy, especially since it actually puts boots on the ground in the conflict, unlike our Sunni allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.

With whom do we fight in Syria if both Shiite Assad and the Sunni Islamic State are our enemy? John McCain and the Wall Street Journal editorial page have spotted a band of heroes called Syrian moderates. In real life, these moderates, mostly Sunni, have shown a distressing tendency to switch sides and join the Sunni Islamic State forces (now allied with Sunni Al-Qaeda), taking their US supplied weapons and materials with them. So as we escalate our involvement, we are making those brave Sunni Syrian moderates swear on a stack of Korans that they will not go over to the Sunni enemy. We will then train and arm them, which will take months, if not years. The current plan is that the brave Syrian Sunni moderates will take out the Sunni Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, then take out Shiite Assad, unless it’s the other way around. Unimportant details like that are still being worked out, but right now we’re dropping bombs and killing combatants on all sides.

If the Sunni Syrian moderates, Kurds (who practice a variety of religions), and the Shiite Iraqis defeat the Sunni Islamic State, our Sunni allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey will insist we depose Shiite Assad. If we start with Assad, it will noticeably diminish Shiite Iraq and Shiite Iran’s enthusiasm for war against the Sunni Islamic State. How does the US define victory when it is on both sides of a centuries-old sectarian war? It doesn’t; although they’ve hinted of a thirty-year war, neither the Obama administration nor the Republicans and generals promoting deeper US involvement in the Middle East have bothered to tell us how we will know when we’ve won, because they can’t. Defeat will be easier to pinpoint; we’ve seen it before. The US will shell out at least a trillion dollars; US public opinion will turn decidedly against the morass of another inconclusive war; there will be thousands more dead, wounded, and shattered US soldiers; legions of new terrorists will prompt further expansion of the national security state, and Shiites and Sunnis will be locked in brutal combat for another thousand years or so.

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13 responses to “A Clear and Concise Guide to U.S. Policy in the Middle East, by Robert Gore

  1. Pingback: A Clear and Concise Guide to U.S. Policy in the Middle East | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. And, suggestions?


    • Get out and stay out. What are they going to do with their oil–which besides Israel is the only reason we are there–eat it? I don’t think the world’s 1st or 2nd largest economy, depending on how it is measured, will lack for sellers of black gold.


  3. Well, what about the Kurds?


  4. Thanks, I updated my post with a mention of the Kurds. As an ethnic group that practices a variety of religions, I regarded them as tangential to the main Shiite-Sunni conflict, so I had overlooked them before.


  5. Oh! Oh! I know! Pick me!
    (stands up) NONE OF THE ABOVE!

    It’s kind of like “Who’s On First” – both sides (us & them) are talking about completely different things, and will never understand the other side.


  6. the Kurds, at least, either like us or figure they owe us one for backing them in Iraq. Helping them out might make sense. Everyone else there should be left to kill each other.


  7. I agree with you one hundred percent that ‘get out, and stay out’ is the nation’s best course of action, but again, there is a very short list of reasons that I could possibly justify a federal action against any other nation or people.

    What frustrates me most in this matter is not knowing what can I do here at home. Am I going to gather a million people and fly to DC and march peacefully until our demand for extremely limited foreign involvement are met? No. I don’t even write to my senators. I can discuss my feelings and points that I research with my friends and co-workers, but I am not sure where to go after that. What can we do here at home, or can we even do anything on an individual level?


  8. We could just pull back and nuke the entire site from orbit.
    It’s the only way to be sure.


  9. This pretty much sums up the clusterfuck in the Middle East, except for the part about the elites and their military industrial complex sponsors/cronies making hundreds of billions of dollars of profit on the trillion or so in tax dollars that will be spent and the tens of thousands of dead and maimed Americans that will result.
    Just nuke the fucking place real good and eliminate the savages. We have enough oil and natural gas to supply our needs for at least the next 200 years. By then the radiation levels will be down to the point that we can begin tapping Mid East oil again, without the hassle of the savages that currently infest the area. (Hiroshima and Nagasaki are fine and prosperous today … It really won’t even take 50 years for the Middle East to be productive if the savages are eliminated.)


  10. Pingback: The Hazards of Telling an Idiot He’s an Idiot, by Robert Gore | STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC

  11. Pingback: He Said That? 12/4/14 | STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC

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