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I have enumerated USA strategic objectives in MENA here. Here I would like to broach a companion subject, one larger yet. This is the subject of USA Grand Design for the Middle East. What USA Grand Design for the Middle East serves USA strategic objectives there? I do not entertain the indolent notion that there need be, can be or should be no USA Grand Design for the Middle East or strategic objectives there.
Columbus Day, which is today, is an excellent as well as convenient gateway to the subject.
USA has one grand strategic objective and that is to strengthen USA national sovereignty. Therefore, our question here turns on the immovable pivot: what Grand Design for the Middle East strengthens USA national sovereignty? To change the metaphor but not the meaning, answers to our question can be measured by no other measuring means than this one: what USA Grand Design for the Middle East strengthens USA national sovereignty? USA national sovereignty, strengthening thereof, anchors and governs our discussion, all of it.
Participating in the world’s hurly-burly, USA has one grand strategic interest and one only anywhere on the globe, over it or in it: strengthening USA national sovereignty. All other USA strategic interests subsist in that grand one. That grand strategic interest is the reason the Colonies formed themselves into sovereign states served by a federal structure of government. It remains the only reason the USA federal government exists at all. The states are the sheep, the federal structure is the shepherd with his sheep dogs and weapons.
USA grand strategic interests are the opportunities she meets, through the course of her life, for achieving her grand strategic objective: strengthening USA national sovereignty.
As I recall, the Age of Exploration had one strategic objective: find passage to India and China (Spice Trade) that did not require traverse of Moslem hostility to Christianity or Arab hostility to non-Semites.
Since northward passage was known or assumed inhospitable to contemporary naval architecture, and eastward passage was blocked by Islam and Arabs, westward and southward passage were the opportunities available.
Portuguese were the early heaviest to try a southward passage and Spanish the early heaviest to try a westward passage. Multi-national crews drove some of the ships (e.g., the Italian Cristoforo Colombo, a gifted navigator, drove for the Spanish Crown). Other sovereigns, and also merchants and adventurers, soon launched their own interrogatories southward and westward to India and China.
The objective stood constant: passage to/from India and China without resistance from Islam and Arabs. This constant focus on India and China as wealth-repositories and wealth-producers compels my attention. And not only the fungible wealth — especially Chinese — but also the spiritual wealth — especially Indian. I think that focus underlies ruminations on USA strategic interest even today, especially today.
Be it noted that dangers of blue-water seas were considered more bearable than dangers of Middle Eastern red deserts.
Today the objective — of Europe, but not of USA — remains the same: ensure passage to/from India and China in the sense of repositories and producers of wealth. In diplo-speak: freedom of navigation across sovereign nations and between them. Likewise, USA grand strategic objective remains the same: strengthen USA national sovereignty. However, conditions — always fleeting — which present USA grand strategic interest opportunities for achieving USA grand strategic objective, are not the same as they were in the 15th or even the 20th Centuries.
Thus we come to USA Grand Design for the Middle East.
USA is at considerable physical distance from the Middle East. Russia and India are not. Russia and India, furthermore, have ancient and modern dealings with the Middle East, aiming to the same purpose: keep it quiet. They also have modern dealings from Soviet times: economic, military, political and cultural, which is to say, KGB subversion.
Russia has two immediate threats in the Middle East: Iran and Ottoman Turkey. India also has two immediate threats in the Middle East: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Russia and India share — with USA — the universal globe-wide threat: China.
China is a yes-no, on-off society. She knows nothing between slavery and autocracy. Also, she is not, historically, globe-hegemon disposed militarily, although she is morally (hers) and intellectually (hers). China is race-and class-induced autism raised to the Nth power without self-critical protocols.
On her own — and thinking geographically, which is the most fundamental and enlightening way to think — USA faces no immediate threats in the Middle East. Tied to some allies and partners, USA does face threats there because some allies and partners face immediate threats to their grand strategic interests in the Middle East (e.g., allies Great Britain and France, partners Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan). Thus today, USA grand strategic interests in the Middle East are derived, not original.
I have lobbied at some length for grand strategic alliance between USA, Russia and India. Three Brothers Doctrine I call it. With that alliance in mind, and given its extraordinarily powerful (= world-leading) dynamics, I suggest that USA Grand Design for the Middle East be, essentially, let Russia and India handle it. They have help (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kurds, elements of Syria). Foster the national sovereignties USA has stood by through the decades (Iraq, Jordan, Kurdistan, Egypt, Afghanistan [with Russia!]) but not in lieu of their own successful assiduity for concretizing that grand strategic objective each of them has, and rightly so.
Israel was for long a client and virtual territory of the USA — notwithstanding lethal attack against her benefactor — but she is stood up now and able to navigate her own way through regional and other affairs. She deserves USA well-wishes but not subsidies.
The Kurds are USA friends. They are in four groups: Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian and Turkish. They can take care of themselves. With luck, they induce the Three Brothers to second their status as a sovereign nation while providing themselves their own means to that objective.
Ottoman Turkey currently is the major USA headache in the Middle East. Really, she is the main headache of everybody there. This is because Ottoman Turkey has gone Salafi, which is to say, stupid as well as rather directly against the current of Middle Eastern affairs. Not all Turkey has embraced this stupidity. But the ruling degenerates have. Ottoman Turkey comprises now a USA frenemy, to use modern jargon. She will not enter the EU and should exit/be expelled from NATO. She is also a Russian grand strategic interest, not a USA grand strategic interest, unless Russia requests USA assistance in re Ottoman Turkey. Let Turkey handle herself, un-entangled by NATO/USA attachments.
Iran is a secular state, like all others, not a theocracy. All governance is secular. No religion contemplates acting as a structure of governance. Claims by mullahs and sharia advocates notwithstanding, religion and law (governance) are incomparable functions of human life. They are different, they intersect and they are not separate (nothing is) nor incompatible. They work different streets. Religion and law are like religion and science: they live in different neighborhoods of the same village and contribute uniquely to its wealth. Call them incomparable.
While governance (law) is a secular function, doing it happily and fruitfully for all rests on a meta-reality of proper conduct, which is described by a moral code, preferably comprehensive. The Decalogue is a comprehensive moral code. It describes the perfect human formation, the one which, concretized in secular affairs, makes governance that is happy and fruitful for all. The Decalogue is not a law or legal system. It has no assets to enforce compliance to itself and, therefore, it is not a governance presence or mechanism. It is a comprehensive moral code, but one which describes conditions legal systems should be made to concretize in secular affairs.
Moral codes are the meta-realities of legal systems. For example, the West Point Honor Code is the meta-reality of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Without the prius of a moral code, there can be no legal system.
Iran, therefore, should be treated as a secular state, like any other. Ditto Saudi Arabia, by the way. And Iraq. And Israel. This talk of a religion being the constitution or foundation of a state is monkey feathers. No religion makes such a claim. None could. The claim is made by charlatans (PDF). What a religion can claim is shaping, over time, the general outlook of a people — their ways of seeing the world — by holding before them a more or less comprehensive moral code describing perfect human formation. And the more comprehensive the better, such as The Decalogue. In that sense, religion is the resting crucible for evincing proper conduct.
Religion describes the grandeur and destiny of man aspiration for which can free a personality from capture in the tars of fear and envy.
The mullahs are bullies, which means they are weak. Structurally, Iran’s weakness is the non-redundancy of her systems, to include her outlook on the world. Hitting them there would roll up the mullahs. But who should do it? USA’s great non-boomie leverage on Iran is the USA financial system and the contradictions of mullah ideology (PDF). Ditto China, as we see being applied now against China’s sixty+ years old enslavement of Northern Korea. USA partners in the region have various amounts of leverage on Iran, to include against her non-redundant domestic systems. I think it is primarily a Three Brothers decision — certainly not a USA unilateral one — as to disposing the mullahs and reposing fair governance in Iran. However, there are helper states in the area and spread across a diaspora of Persians, especially, Baha’is, and Persians’ own Green Movement. Plenty of IO opportunities there.
The mullahs’ impulse to dominate the Arabian Peninsula from Tehran to Beirut is not shared by, really, anyone in the neighborhood or outside it. They really are above their hats. The insanity of the impulse, alone, is sufficient to destroy it over time, but inside that duration it causes unnecessary effusion of blood and treasure. Thus it is desirable to compress the vitality of the mullahs’ insanity into the shortest possible duration. Already it has run since 1979 and at terrific price to others. I think the Three Brothers have immediate responsibility for pinching off the mullah’s vitality while the neighbors (Three Brothers‘ regional partners) have ultimate responsibility for executing it and maintaining its lodgment six feet under.
Data Point: the bulk of the Russian and the Iranian navies float on the brown-water Caspian Sea, watching each other. Most of Russia’s new ships are on the Caspian. Also there are large Russian maneuver and assault formations.
Observation: Russia is interested in her near abroad, not world conquest, for which she would need a blue-water navy. Russia has the world’s deepest border security nightmare. Also, she has not the wealth for world conquest, but that is less important than having not the desire for it. Russia — as distinct from the alien socialist ideology of the Soviet — has never had that desire and never will. China, on the other hand, while perhaps not formerly having that desire, now is bitten by the lubricious and sententious socialist bug and itching, in consequence, to enslave the globe.
Saudi Arabia may be coming ’round to renouncing her Salafist ways. She invented them! We shall see. At the moment, she is being given the benefit of the doubt, officially.
Data Point: However, Ottoman Turkey is raising the Salafi banner while al Saud may be lowering it. Ottoman Turkey contemplates moving south through the Levant towards al Saud while Iran contemplates moving west through Iraq, Syria and Jordan towards Turkey. Their tracks cross, virtually in perpendicular. Three Brothers must decide, therefore, how they want that collision to play out … or avoid its happening by removing one of its actors from the stage. Preferably that would be the Iranian clerical bench because Ottoman Turkey is less fanatical, so far, and therefore less prone to chancing significant field maneuvers, such as Iran already has underway, with militias and IRGC regulars, in Iraq and Syria.
Modernly, access to wealth-repositories and wealth-producers need not transit the Middle East, at least not all of it. This is a blessing given historical diminishments in that regard. However, the fevered minds of the region’s residents argue that communications through the Middle East do be kept open one way and another, a task Three Brothers can discharge having India and Russia in the van for that region.
The assumption deserving the composter is that USA values and rules can or should govern Middle Eastern as well as world affairs. That assumption, socialist in nature, tries to benign the lurid agitations of autism which struggle and seethe inside it. USA grand strategic objective and grand strategic interests consist in strengthening USA national sovereignty in any and all conditions met through the dynamics of history. That is all in which USA activity consists, domestic and foreign. USA has no responsibility to protect anyone other than her constituent sovereign states and their citizens — and not the residents, the citizens.
As private citizens, USA Americans can choose a responsibility to protect anyone not seeking to harm the USA. However, as sons and daughters of the nation state named USA, US citizens and taxpayers have no responsibility — and cannot be compelled to have responsibility — to protect anyone or anything other than their own mother country.
Pace POTUS Coolidge, the business of the USA is national sovereignty, not business.
USA policy in the Middle East should encourage USA citizens to colonize and culture-splice there. Otherwise, and as per consultation with Russia and India — which can compel change or adjustment to USA decisions in re the Middle East — proceed as outlined above. The Middle East is Russia’s and India’s grand strategic interest. Europe considers the Middle East her grand strategic interest, per her history of looking East and having to transit the Middle East. Times have changed. Today, Russia, India and USA have authority there antecedent to Europe’s — and Turkey’s — interests in the same region. Foster the national sovereignties in the area and it will quieten down.
Update 2: Spengler: Why Europe’s New Nationalists Love Israel
Update 5: Michael Totten is getting it, gradually: Turkey Is Behaving Like An Enemy Now
Update 7: Angelo M. Codevilla: Advice To War Presidents
AUM NAMAH SHIVAYA