Saturday, May 23, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, May 23

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


The invasion of Iraq in 2003 led by President George W. Bush was justified because most of our intelligence and Senate believed that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction (nuclear and chemical weapons which he had used in the 1980-89 war with Iran). The US had responded to the 2001 bombing of the twin towers in New York City by quickly driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan into the hills of Pakistan. We were aided in this by Shiite forces in Afghanistan and Shiite Iran who were enemies of the radical Sunni Al Qaeda, associated with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The secularist Saddam Hussein had little to do with the September 11th attacks, engineered by fifteen Saudis and four other radical Sunnis.

There was a strong ally of the US interested in bringing down the regime of Saddam Hussein. A defense strategy written for Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel in 1992 argued for the overthrow of Saddam as part of a strategic reconfiguration of Mideast alliances. The policy was meant as a Clean Break from the obsession with the Israeli/Palestine conflict. The writers argued that the greatest existential threat to Israel was going to be a biological or nuclear-armed Iraq or Iran. This change of focus from Palestinians to regional powers with weapons of mass destruction was a huge paradigm shift. A group that adopted that Clean Break mentality for American foreign policy was advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein long before the 9-11 attacks, They coalesced around the project for the New American Century.  The US Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act and President Clinton signed it October 31, 1998. The act stated that "regime change" of the government led by Saddam Hussein was the policy of the US Government.  The US had in Saddam Hussein a declared enemy who was a Chief of State  in the Muslim world.  Turning the words of our policy into military action in concert with the newly evolving strategy of our long term ally -- the Israelis -- made sense to a lot of people.


Before the September 11th attacks, the US was reformulating a strategic doctrine after the fall of the Soviet Union. One such paper authored in 1992 is called the Wolfowitz Doctrine because of its origin from Paul Wolfowitz in the State Department. A five-year defense strategy paper written in 1992 during the George H. W. Bush presidency (Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years) had to wait for the Clinton interlude (1992-2000) before a revival of its principles during the George W. Bush years. In the Clinton years (though the document had been severely criticized when leaked) an important part of the doctrine was realized. Fifteen independent states emerged from the Soviet Union, and Germany was reunified as a nation. But the document had favored a continuing expansion of an armed alliance against Russia. In the lost opportunity of a lifetime, the president who did little to fight the Cold War as a youth was not magnanimous in the victory. It is probably not fair to blame a tepid Southern Baptist for not recognizing the significance in Christian history of a chance to mend some of the wounds of the Great Schism.

The basic concept of the Wolfowitz Doctrine (and by default, the Clinton policy) was a recognition of the demise of the bipolar world of USSR vs USA. The USA should maintain military supremacy over a globalized economy and work to suppress any regional actors ("hegemons" as they love to say) from ever assuming the role the USSR had in the Cold War. The most dangerous regional actors to keep suppressed would be China in the East, Russia in Europe, and Iran in the Mideast. That sounds like the speech and first three questions addressed by Senator Marco Rubio at the Council on Foreign Policy.


Asia's three biggest economies have simultaneously developed three real leaders. (They are pictured here.)


Here is an excellent summary of the folly of US-Russia enmity over Crimea. Apparently, several European nations are advocating a serious reversal. On Russia and Iran, John Kerry has been a formidable force for the kind of realignment we will need to defeat the ISIS Sunni movement. A breakthrough with Russia is essential. Whether this article is wishful thinking or first evidence of a real change, we will see.


One wonders where are the military voices in the foreign policy debate. Pope Francis criticizes careerism in the Vatican. It is a Pentagon problem as well.


Egypt - Executing the Elected: The Mideast is complicated. One variant of Sunni purists are the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They forswore violence and won a national election (51% - 48% for Mohammed Morsi as president in June 2012). They did not govern well and specifically threatened Egypt's Coptic Christians and, more importantly, questioned the favored social status of the Egyptian military. The Christians, secularists, multiple opposition groups, and the military all favored the military coup in July 2013 which overthrew the elected government of Mohamed Morsi. Army chief general Abdel Fattah el Sisi became the new President. His speech calling for a religious reexamination in the Mideast was widely praised in the West. The Saudis have supported the military coup. They never liked the Muslim Brotherhood. It favors a much more republican version of Islamic governance vs. their hereditary rule style. Qatar which has more religious freedom than Saudi Arabia was a defender of the Egyptian election and the Muslim Brotherhood. This led to a strain in relations among the Gulf monarchies. Now, President Morsi and many of his political followers have been sentenced to death. President Sisi of Egypt has helped the Gulf monarchies in their assault on the Houthis of Yemen. He has tried to win US favor in foreign policy. The execution of an elected but deposed president should not be too eagerly cheered.

Protecting Christians: To protect the Christians in the Mideast, we should begin by not aiding their greatest enemies: radical Sunnis. Next we should not eliminate the only fighting forces in the Mideast against the Wahhabi Sunnis of Saudi Arabia. This includes the Houthi Shia of Yemen, the Shia of Iran, the Shia of Iraq, and the Alawite Shia and their Christian allies under Assad of Syria. Meanwhile in Kenya, Christian pastors protect their flocks from another threat: cultural imperialism. This comes from a Republican website, but it is an accurate compilation of the aggressive sexual Left policies pressuring the Christian cultures and countries of Africa of Africa.

Religious Devastation in Yemen: Saudi Arabia's bombing of the Shias in Yemen is the worst religious persecution in the Mideast right now. Several Republican candidates who are all about sanctions against Russia for claiming the Crimea are all in for the Saudis destroying the Houthis of a neighboring country,Yemen. One wishes to avoid inflammatory rhetoric but apparently we are all supposed to be quieted and blinded by the new compound word IRAN-HOUTHI. Houthi is a word that no longer appears at any public event without its partner ("Iran") in the American press.

Changes in the House of Saud: Here is short summary by Robin Wright in the 'New Yorker.'

No comments:

Post a Comment