Tuesday, January 07, 2020

A Primer on Hubris

The article's title tells you all you really need to know: "How Trump Can Sort Out the Middle East."

The idea that it is desirable, or even possible, for a US president (or a US government in general) to "sort out" the affairs of 16 other regimes and numerous non-state actors on the other side of the globe is insane.

"The United States," writes Conrad Black, "has to find a way to defend its legitimate national interests in the Middle East without being on call, like firemen, for constant interventions there, with high resultant expenses, significant casualties, and an excessive commitment of American military resources to that region."

What "legitimate interests" does the United States, as a polity, have in the Middle East? There are presumably American market actors who have such "interests," but it's no more the US government's job to "defend" those "interests" than it is to "defend" the "interests" of a liquor store owner in Kansas City.

Government as constituted in the US might have the job of "defending" that liquor store owner's life from being taken, store from being robbed, etc., but  if so that's because Kansas City is located in two US states. None of the 16 Middle East regimes are within US jurisdiction. They have their own laws, and enforcing those laws is their job.

Black proposes: "Syria and Iraq should ultimately be regrouped in a loose confederation of largely autonomous zones, including Kurdistan. The inner stability and integrity from outsiders of this arrangement could be sponsored by Turkey, Russia, the U.S., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and a respectable regime in Iran when one emerges."

Hey, here's an idea: How about Syrians and Iraqis and Iranians decide what "groupings" suit them instead of Black deciding for them, and "sponsor" those groupings themselves, whether Black finds any of the regimes involved "respectable" or not?

Which, in fact, is what's ultimately going to happen no matter what Black recommends and no matter what Trump does. The only question is how many flag-draped caskets have to arrive at Dover before Black, Trump, et al. give up on their megalomaniac notion of the world being run from Washington, DC.

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