From the College of Geopolitical Knowledge
There is only so much one can write about ISIS these days without being redundant…….I despise redundancy since makes me feel like I am too stupid to grasp an idea without a constant repetition until I can comprehend….I try to avoid that I will give all the benefit of the doubt.
Moving on to another subject that is sort of along the lines of my Middle East writings……..
I was recently asked by a student if I could see anyway there could be peace in the Middle East. A question I have been asked many times over the years while I was teaching and lecturing.
An excellent question……but it is one that needs clarifying. What do they mean by “peace”? Is it a concern for the whole region? Or maybe a specific country?
To most Westerners, that is until recently, peace in the Middle East meant peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians……..and few in the West will take the time to look at the situation clearly…..they are basing what they perceive as peace through the lens of religion not from reality.
Unfortunately most Americans want a simple answer to their question……but it cannot be answered properly in a simple manner and anyone that gives you one is a ………LIAR.
Let’s continue shall we?
Start with the region….the Middle East. Will there ever be peace in the region? Not in my lifetime…..well that is unfair since I am an old fart that will be a lot quicker than it sounds…..
There are too many varied interests in the region…Sunni, Shi’a, Sufis, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Kurds, Alawites and a whole bunch of minor ethnicity…….then there is the tribes and their traditional lands….and finally there is just plain racism that may never become peaceful.
Keep in mind that what we call the Middle Est is a Western invention brought about at the end of World War One and the dissolving of the Ottoman Empire. Then after years of rioting and rebellion and armed conflict strong men came to power and the region became fairly peaceful under their regimes.
A case can be made that peace can be achieved in the Middle East but it will take an authoritarian figure to do so…..and that is just NOT acceptable to the Western powers. For some reason they, the West, wants to foist democracy onto a people that have NO experience handling such a concept. One problem is there is very few democratic institutions in the region…..without those democracy has no place to go……and is just a novel concept.
But let’s say we can somehow silence all the discord in the Middle east…..what would a peace process look like?
The head of the UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, who is now the president of the International Crisis Group has made an observation…….
- Talk to your enemies, because it is with them that you will have to make peace: Iran has to be part of the solution in Syria precisely because it is part of the problem.
- Don’t expect to build stable peace on the exclusion of a significant segment of the population: Whatever the flaws in the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood, the policy of eradication pursued by Egypt is unlikely to succeed.
- Don’t expect that training and equipment are enough to build an army: Soldiers die for their country when they believe in it, and the debacle in Ramadi shows that security reform without a political foundation is a waste of money.
- Last but not least, be more humble, but also more persistent in defining policy goals: The people of the Middle East, not the West, will define the future of the region. The West’s strategic ambition cannot be to shape the regional order, whether it is status quo or change, but only to limit violence and war, which feed terrorism.
The important thing to remember is that the people of the Middle East need to define their path….not the US or any other Western power. Peace is not achieved by knee jerk reactions to a situation.
Without a sense of nation…….no nation is possible. Without peace there will be no nation…….and the vicious cycle goes on……and on…….