The Promise of Pragmatism
Realities and Opportunities in the Middle East
- The fundamental question in a rational foreign policy in any nation is whether a course of action is in the national interest. As displayed by the marked expansion of Russian and Chinese influence from Syria to Sudan that has been among the sole practical deliverables produced by the expenditure of at least $8 trillion in the Middle East, continuation of the status quo is unlikely to meet the aforementioned core litmus test. The second litmus test is to correctly identify allies and adversaries. An approach that prioritizes indirect challenges over direct dangers in Syria and Yemen objectively does not meet either litmus test.
- Despite ad infinitum regurgitation of a factually unsupported conventional wisdom by dubiously-financed ostensible experts that not infrequently in actuality lack their much-heralded subject matter expertise, there is no deadline involved in the pursuit of a less costly and more pragmatic approach to tensions involving Iran and other ostensible adversaries save that which is created by an inflexible insistence on the prioritization of politics and personal interest over pragmatism and patriotism.
- Some ostensible experts speak of utilizing leverage, by which they are presumably refering to the dogmatic effort that resulted in at least 1.5 million civilians in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iran between 2017 — 2021 while expanding rather than constraining the influence of Iran, Russia and China in the Middle East. Suffice it to say that such notions are fanciful at best, beyond which more substantively addressing sociopathic delusions is a task best left to trained medical professionals.
- Yemen is a conflict particularly ripe for resolution at the time of writing, as it has been for at least two years. Mediating between Sanaa and Riyadh would be a suitable starting point in light of potentially decisive military developments on the ground, as would providing relief through USAID and the UN to alleviate a historic famine. Lifting fuel and foodstuffs blockades is an underrated factor in this respect.
- Resolving the situation in Yemen would also have the effect of gradually enhancing stability and security in the Horn of Africa, which is a highly underrated region from an economic and geostrategic perspective.
- Where Syria is concerned, a prisoner swap involving Tice and partial unfreezing of funds would not be particularly difficult to achieve in the event that it were legitimately sought and would provide a valuable opportunity to discard strategic baggage while lowering the temperature in neighboring Lebanon.
- Perhaps the most relevant issue in the Middle East is the tensions with Iran. A full return to the pre-2018 status quo is simply impractical, as the nature of the tensions has evolved in the ensuing period in a manner such that regional political and economic factors are of equal and perhaps greater significance than the nuclear file. These various issues are interrelated and while a return to JCPOA compliance is less difficult in practical terms than the chorus of conventional wisdom by the aforementioned ostensible experts suggests, it alone is unlikely to move the needle to the extent needed to achieve sustainable detente. Addressing issues with Iran would also provide an opening for movement toward a durable cold equilibrium where Gaza is concerned and would aid in the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan. With regard to concerns by some that the election of a conservative government in Tehran would jeopardize progress toward an agreement, it is worth noting that simply being conservative does not render one suicidal. Oftentimes, the conservatives are more hard-nosed and rational than their idealistic rivals, as reflected by the fact that a conservative Iranian president made deals with Reagan three decades ago and his center-right successor achieved de-escalation with Bush 41.
- In closing, it is worth noting that the current status quo in the Middle East is fundamentally unsustainable beyond 2040 at the latest. Realistically, the highest costs of continued pursuit of ineffective measures that are not constructive in nature are likely to fall on the US allies that are currently in favor of such measures. While these allies are certainly entitled to be directly or indirectly involved in the pursuit of new approaches that would impact them, it would be in their interest to consider the fact that their children will bear the brunt, positive or negative, of actions taken today when they reach the same age as their parents.