Can this global mess wait until January 2013?

Sol W. Sanders

Diverted by the essential — if sometimes burlesqued — pursuit of America’s quadrennial search for leadership, policymakers have tried to put international problems on hold. But dealing with wannabe-totalitarian outcroppings throughout the Islamic world from Casablanca to Zamboanga, is as critical and demanding and may take as long as the struggle with Moscow’s Communism.

  • Syria threatens its neighbors through a shared collection of ethnic and religious minorities as it descends into full-blown civil war. Rather than risk shaking loose a torrent of animosities, Washington succumbed to the theory better the monster we know. Not only has that policy imploded, but the acknowledged failure of the Arab League to find a “solution”, puts the question whether there can be any coordinated Arab response to the threat from Iran for whom Damascus has been acting as a surrogate in the Levant.
    YouTube image on Jan. 21 appears to show anti-government protesters fleeing after Syrian soldiers shot at them in Douma, near Damascus. / AFP
  • And Iran appears moving quickly — despite sabotage from indeterminate sources — toward nuclear weapons. Whether the mullahs’ threats to wipe out Israel are Hitlerian or Mussolini-ish, Teheran’s success would assure regional dominance and control of world oil — or an even worst nightmare, a nuclear arms race among the primitive Persian Gulf states. Washington’s dilemma: whether to ratchet up sanctions, risking higher oil prices further imperiling the Euro and braking world recovery, with no assurance it would break Teheran, or repair straitened relations with Israel for a unpredictable military “solution”, perhaps unleashing regional chaos.
  • Egypt’s elections threw up an Islamicist majority, giving the lie to interpretations The Arab Spring would replace corrupt authoritarianism with intimations of “democracy”. Tourism is rapidly declining, not only aggravating massive youth unemployment but destroying Cairo’s ability to buy food, threatening its 65 million, a third and once leader of the Arab world, with famine conditions. Washington’s see-no-evil bribing of the region’s largest [if untested] army [an average of $2 billion annually since 1979] is now totally inadequate with Cairo needing a minimum of $11 billion [from the IMF and other donors] to get through the current emergency.
  • Headstrong leadership has introduced creeping Islamization to Turkey’s vaunted secular model, seeking former Ottoman grandeur using a road map pointing in all directions. Its Israel alliance repudiation in pursuit of that objective short-circuits all American regional policy wires. Furthermore, naïve so-called “Islamic banking” is destroying a boom, mainstay of the regime. Washington’s warmed over Cold War leftovers posing Ankara as the southeast anchor of NATO is increasingly suspect. Nor can the U.S. ignore Turkey’s conflicted relationship with Iran as a principal energy supplier but competitor [including Sunni versus Shia] for regional hegemony.
  • Pakistan, a tenth of the world’s Muslims, teeters as it has throughout its history. All vital signs beep slower on its rich British Indian colonial heritage: GNP, poverty, nutrition, education, social stability, religious tolerance. Once considered immune to Islamic fanaticism, a veritable jihadist factory with diaspora tentacles in Britain and other Western countries connects to worldwide terrorism. America’s $20 billion in aid since 2001 has paved a road to hell with good intentions — favoring “democracy”, in reality a venal feudal Potemkin government and, aiding the only national institution, the military, to discredit itself with corruption and embarrassment over the Osama bin Laden raid. Pakistani leadership, always mesmerized by India [and thus countering with its Chinese alliance], sees the Obama Administration’s Afghanistan draw-down [and growing Indian influence in Kabul] as another dip in the on and off U.S. alliance with no amount of aid and pressure likely to deter its search to concoct answering strategies.
  • Meanwhile, the Persian Gulf satrapies terrified of Iran — intoxicated with real estate extravaganzas, white elephant museums and mock American-affiliated universities — make little social progress, dependent on huge alienated imported slave labor, while haphazardly “recirculating” untold wealth from energy exports. Candidate Barack Obama’s turnabout blocking U.S. fossil fuel and therefore world production appears more rhetoric than reality. Coupled with political instability American production restraints help push toward stagflation and deepens the world recession.
  • Were that not enough, European leadership admits “multiculturalism” has failed its rapidly growing Muslim immigrants, a reflection of overall inability to deal with larger issues. President Obama’s own “open fist” cultural and political initiative to Muslim world has been met with disdain. And as even this simplistic accounting demonstrates, the Obama administration’s monomaniacal fumbling with Israel-Arab feuding miscalculates priorities of regional problems.Decision, decisions — how many can wait until January 2013?

Sol W. Sanders, (solsanders@cox.net), writes the ‘Follow the Money’ column for The Washington Times on the convergence of international politics, business and economics. He is also a contributing editor for WorldTribune.com and East-Asia-Intel.com.

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