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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Pondering the Way Ahead in the Middle East

For John, BLUFI would chip in that I am much less impressed with a bureaucracy in Foggy Bottom, and the Pentagon, that didn't figure out where the President was going and get ahead of him to give him decent options—or maybe they did, which is why there is, apparently, Sunni Arab backfill in Syria.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From PJ Media, by Mr Richard Fernandez (Wretchard), 21 December 2018.

The discussion is about withdrawal from Syria, but it is also about the larger regional and global strategic issues.  Then it ends with this thought:

With any luck the Syria controversy will jolt the public awake and restart a debate on these issues.  We must learn to re-recognize our world.  One of the biggest dangers for a purposeless hegemon is getting tied down in outposts purely for legacy reasons.  The MENA region probably still remembers how Lawrence of Arabia beat the Ottoman Empire.  Lawrence's amazing counsel to to Faisal to avoid capturing Medina is instructive even today:
We must not take Medina.  The Turk was harmless there.  In prison in Egypt he would cost us food and guards.  We wanted him to stay at Medina, and every other distant place, in the largest numbers.  Our ideal was to keep his railway just working, but only just, with the maximum of loss and discomfort....  [His] pride in his imperial heritage would keep him in his present absurd position -- all flanks and no front.
The great danger is that someone -- there is an enemy right? -- is playing the same game on Washington's bureaucrats.  The conflicts accumulated over the War on Terror years may have become America's Medinas.  Trump may be wrong about withdrawing from Syria, or he may be right.  The important thing to understand is why.
MENA is "Middle East and North Africa".

Ponder away.

Hat tip to Ms Sarah Hoyt, at the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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