Thursday, September 13, 2012

America Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

When it comes to the 'new Middle East', the Americans are caught between a rock and a hard place. It was the same with the 'old' Middle East. 

For years, America engaged with the Middle East dictatorships using a mix of dollars, weapons, and soft power. For years it was criticised for interfering in the region.

Now it continues its engagement with most of the dictatorships, but also with the newly-elected governments in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen. It is still criticised.

There are those who argue the Americans should withdraw from the region, that they cause more trouble than they help.

Others say the US must be deeply engaged not only to safeguard its own interests but to help what are described as fledgling democracies.

To withdraw would be to go to a hard place, a place where the US could not help influence events in a geo-politically-crucial part of the world.

To stay is to continue to bump up against the rock that is anti-American opinion which manifests itself sometimes in violence.

When it comes to the Gulf, the US really has no choice. Given that the life blood of America, and the rest of the developed world, pumps out of the region, no American administration is ever to going to disengage from being able to influence events.

It is why the US keeps a huge military presence there.

Washington could now ignore what happens in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere. If it does, it will be accused of abandoning the fledgling democracies.

There are many groups and political movements across the region who wish to use the current instability to further a radical agenda in which democracy will play no part and which will be profoundly anti-Western. 

Without outside help it is unlikely that genuine democracies will emerge, leaving the populations across an entire region as politically and financially impoverished as they are now.

On the other hand, if it seeks to influence events, it will be accused of interference.

There are no easy answers, nor is there one policy. The Americans look at each country in its own right.

Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong.

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