by Joe Klein
October 8, 2012
This is going to be a rocky path,” Barack Obama told 60 Minutes, referring to the turmoil in the Middle East. “There are going to be bumps in the road.” The President was talking about the long-term struggle to move a region of historically repressed and undereducated people toward freedom, but long-term thinking is impermissible in presidential campaigns, and Mitt Romney called him on his bumps: “We had an ambassador assassinated. We had a Muslim Brotherhood member elected to the presidency of Egypt. Iran is that much closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.” For good measure, the Romney campaign chided the President for appearing on The View but not meeting with foreign leaders during U.N. General Assembly week. These pokes, along with a smooth appearance on 60 Minutes, were part of a micro-renaissance Romney was experiencing as a candidate—several days without a goof—that perhaps only the press noticed as the Republican’s poll numbers plummeted in crucial states. …
The president is a huge factor in American involvement in Syria. However, rather than dealing with the current situation, this article mostly focused on the 2012 candidates and their broad ideas of the situation. Governor Romney called out many troubles in the Middle East (such as the assassination of an ambassador, the revolt in Egypt, et cetera.
But the candidates weren’t the only ones speaking.
“There is still no solution to how to divide the former Ottoman Empire,” says Robert Kaplan, whose compelling new book, The Revenge of Geography, raises the possibility that those neat, straight-line borders you see on maps of the region may not be permanent. “We’re not sure who will have the power to control which territories, whether you’ll have new tribal and sectarian lines. Today’s Syria and Iraq, for example, represent separate, age-old agricultural zones, but those borders were never clearly drawn.”
This deepens the situation in Syria. The Syrian Civil War could easily escalate to a territorial claim, the article hints. Israel itself was created for Jews after the Holocaust. States like Jordan and Kurdistan were made by Britain, a Western power. Religion also enters the field as the Sunnis (a minority in Iraq; a majority in Syria) are now finding sympathy with eachother.
However, a positive statement in this article is that the author acknowledges America’s need to talk about these issues. More and more resources are being gained from the Middle East, and a cooperation with America would be beneficial for both sides. One way to start would be to assist in these civil wars, which the UN is working on.
It would be nice to have a real discussion about these issues, which may define the next era of U.S. foreign policy. Obviously, the presidential campaign is no place to have it