Middle East Stalement Might be the Best We Can Do

The United States will likely extend the May 1 deadline for pulling all its troops from Afghanistan. A bipartisan report to Congress said on Wednesday recommends making force cuts contingent on progress in peace talks as well as by the Taliban in reducing violence and containing al Qaeda.

The report claims withdrawing all U.S. troops could lead to civil war, destabilizing the region and reviving the al Qaeda threat.

US Troop levels were officially reduced to 2500 in Afghanistan at the end of the last administration.

Accounting tricks had been used to create the appearance of a smaller force and sidestep administration constraints. Jim Jeffrey, the former special envoy for Syria and the fight against the Islamic State, admitted that he deceived Trump about the real number of U.S. soldiers in Syria to maintain a greater force than the White House wanted. “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there.”

Retiring diplomat Jim Jeffrey is recommending that the incoming Biden administration stick with Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East. He praises the Trumps support of a successful “realpolitik” approach to the region. He admits his team routinely misled senior leaders about troop levels in Syria. Jeffrey says that Trump’s transactional approach to the Middle East has yielded a more stable region than the policies of Obama or Bush jr.

Jeffrey says US arab allies and Israel are happy with the current stalement.

There have been fears of the return of ISIS since 2017. Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are defined as the Magreb. Those countries possess two unwanted claims to fame: as a significant pool of ISIS foreign fighters and, in the case of Libya, as the site of ISIS’ first successful territorial conquest outside of Iraq and Syria.

From its inception in 2013, the Islamic State (ISIS) has both recruited widely from the Maghreb and sought to build a presence there in multiple ways, from the creation of recruitment and operational cells to seizing and governing territory.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in 2011, tens of thousands of individuals have traveled to join rebel groups in Syria. About 36,500 ended up joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and other jihadist groups once they imposed themselves as major actors in the conflict, particularly after 2013. Most of these foreign fighters are from the Arab world. about 8,000 are from the four countries of the Maghreb (compared to 6,600 from Western countries). Tunisia has produced the highest ratio of foreign fighters per capita (6,000 individuals or 545 per million inhabitants.

SOURCES- Crisis Group, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Defence One, Military Times, Reuters
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

74 thoughts on “Middle East Stalement Might be the Best We Can Do”

  1. When you stare into the Abyss, the Abyss stares back. The US has become so involved in its external imperial wars, that they are corroding America's own institutions and society. As time goes on, everything in America will be gutted and hollowed out, so that only the shell of an empire remains.

  2. I just believe at the end of the day if you're in an environment where you're limited in using the full capabilities of your armor and air-power, then having numerical superiority against the other side in terms of troops (military police, counter terror units, civil affairs units, etc.) will be to the advantage of your conventional counterinsurgency campaign.

  3. A non-nuclear ground war where you can't perform motorised manoeuvre warfare.
    The various wars against, within, and on behalf of, Iraq show that given wide open spaces and a formal enemy military then the US approach of high tech, high speed, industrial warfare is still unmatched.

    (Which, to be fair, was exactly the sort of war against the USSR that the US was preparing for over the second half of the last century. And I assume still features as number 1 in the threat list when planning possible wars against China, North Korea, Russia etc.)

    Vietnam showed that the real problem is small scale wars where the enemy is hidden within the very people you are supposed to be protecting, or at least neutral civilians.

    The fundamental issue is that the real, existential threat that the US military (and most 1st world militaries) has to be prepared for is another 1st world, or at least 2nd world, military. This is what weapon selection, tactics, training, rules of engagement needs to be optimised for.

    BUT the most common type of conflict is low level guerrilla to terrorism to extreme crime level sort of peace keeping and police action.

    It's like preparing for a national championships American football match, but each week you actually end up competing in baseball. Using your football training, uniforms, techniques etc. You know it's all wrong, but if you switch to being a baseball team you'll get smashed in an actual football game.

  4. Another kind of "democracy" would be Calif direct vote to get anything they want. Started with freeze on property tax for old people in '70s, now totally crazy. Some democracy is just formalized mob rule. Well discussed in writing Constitution.

  5. A "democracy" is what he Greeks had, absolute rule by the elected leader, altho for a limited time. "Republic" is what Rome had for a while, where the power is limited and *shared* (contested) by courts and Congress, as US system still is! (Note: we just removed a leader who did not want to go. Lots of hope around the world by oppressed people that someday . . .)

  6. The 50th of things is celebrated in the US quite often. Lennon/Ono album was, Janov was mentioned in most stories, being a key part of the music.

  7. I don't think it is possible to recently do something 50 years ago, by definition.

    Not to mention that probably a minority were even born early enough to hear anything from 1970.

  8. War between England and Norway in 1066AD. Not a single English soldier landed on Norway, but the English clearly won the war.

    They then got conquered by the Normans doing a sneak attach while they were distracted a couple of weeks later, but still.

  9. If the USA was not supposed to be a democracy then they could have saved a whole lot of trouble not introducing the elections and just having a thumb wrestle competition.

  10. Jeffrey probably abided by the letter of the order, if not the spirit. And if Afghanistan had exploded, he probably put the US in a position to increase our numbers very rapidly, and address the chaos as effectively as possible within the letter of that order.
    It is not like Trump ever tried to deceive anyone. Trump is about appearance anyway. As long as he can say he gave the order, that is all that really matters.
    We haven't been a Democracy since the political Parties established themselves. We have a choice of 2 Parties, or some combination (a few short periods with 3). 
    And, in my opinion, any conflict of interest is corruption. And that is everywhere in U.S. government. The lion's share of that comes from campaign contributions. But there is also revolving door stuff like corporate board positions that always seem to be offered to politicians after they leave office. Lobbying jobs. Regulators, who magically get high paying jobs in the industry they regulated. Or high ups in an industry given the regulation jobs in an administration.

  11. I think you underestimate ethics, and the genuine patriotism of armies. If Trump or some other wacko President ordered that the US nuke Sacramento, the military would laugh in his face, and probably arrest him for violating his oath.

  12. Now, that's the spirit. Power addiction is at least 7 million years old. And the chimp *healthy* version is pretty bad! All of the stuff recently, last 70,000 years, is inbred in family fight and now we know how it works. "Once understood, the system must be destroyed" -Janov.

  13. He is correct. The point of infantry is to take and hold ground. If you do not, you have not won. This has been proven in every war.

  14. If you determine that there are enough national interests to fight a war, then enough resources and determination have to be allocated to winning it permanently and quickly to minimize loss of life on your side and the resource cost. If not, do not fight it because what you get, as now, is mission creep with ongoing loss of life, resources and credibility.
    The only people who have ever successfully conquered Afghanistan were willing to commit what we would call atrocities, like the Mongols or Tamerlane. Most of the country is infantry country, meaning you must either put boots on ground to dig them out and hold once you do, or use methods such as persistent nerve agents to accomplish the same goal. If we are not willing to do either to permanently win then we need a large surge with effective targeting to kill as many ISIS, al-Qaeda and Taliban as possible on the way out to give their government the best chance possible when we withdraw.
    Or we can be there "peacekeeping" 10-20-30 years from now. If we do that we will need better funding for the VA to cover injuries and disability for our troops.

  15. You really don't do much that could honestly be described as "reasoning", do you? Trump was trying to withdraw troops, and being lied to in order to keep it from happening. And you complain about Trump?

    And me? I'm an isolationist; I think we should focus on self sufficiency, and have a much smaller military devoted solely to defending the US, and nothing else.

  16. What do I think? I think that little "Report" button under the triple dots to the right of comments is very handy in some cases.

  17. "In most countries, if the military is asked to do some large scale genocidal thing in their own country, they are going to resist that order…" Not until the autocrat starts ordering the execution of every general that opposes him and then the surviving general(s) executes any lieutenant that opposes him and so on and so on all the way down the hierarchy to the corporal. Don't underestimate the effect that primal fear/survival instincts can have on people.

  18. The boots on the ground don't necessarily need to be American, but those boots must be coordinated with aerial power.

  19. If US didn't really care about the ME, then 30M+ people would have been dead in 30+ mins and the ground made infertile for at least 30 years.

  20. War should cost both sides or it will be the go to technique for polititions to get whatever they want…just bullying smaller countries around. I don't think that is really the kind of World we want to live in. Politicians are supposed to exercise diplomacy, employ negotiating skills, and adjust their policies to minimize the impact of what the policy the other country is doing, if that is not effective. Perhaps use a bit of international trade sanctions, and other international negotiations/pressures. Politicians are not earning their pay and position if they turn to violence every time there is tension with another country.
    And when you go automated, there is nothing impeding politicians from turning that on their own people. In most countries, if the military is asked to do some large scale genocidal thing in their own country, they are going to resist that order, perhaps stage a coup. Or at the very least the military will divide and engage in some kind of civil war. With millions of armed loyal drones, even the most deranged or corrupt rationale for genocide is just hunky-dory to the bots. You say "Kill everyone with brown eyes", and it only asks, "Which shades of brown?"

  21. I don't think any country should arm or intervene in another country. There has never been a reason to be in the middle east except to maintain the price of oil. Remember Sadam Huessein had driven the price of oil to $10/barrel and then the world trade center was attacked and we went on the attack. There is enough oil for everyone and the demand will decline by virtue of technology. Bring all the troops home safe and secure.

  22. The US will never leave the Middle East. The real reason the US is there is to make money for its arms dealers and military contractors. Is this not obvious to everyone?

  23. No… not really. If winning from the air was possible, Afghanistan would be a has-been war, not a 20+ year war.

  24. The USA tried, and that's the problem. It would be good if the USA reflected on the question whether it was wise to try. Could they have predicted that an invasion would only produce more violence, and not less? If so, why did they fail to see it coming? And of course: who is responsible and who is accountable. And does being the top weapon seller in the world help to make the world more peaceful? All good questions to ask.

    And it's in the style of our beloved Elon Musk: predict, try, correct, try again. I don't see the "correct" happening. What was learned from Vietnam? They certainly learned that you have to control the media if you don't want to turn public opinion against you, but did they learn about how easily things can go horribly wrong? Did they learn to be more careful?

    And fortunately Biden understands that supporting the war in Yemen is just creating unbearable suffering, but it should not be up to a person to correct the wrongs, it should be baked into the system. Many USA weapon deals even violate their own laws against supplying weapons to governments that might use them against their own citizens. But it seems most USA citizens are not aware that this is the case. Really, there are many corrections necessary.

  25. "Beyond Belief" by Arthur Janov gets to the heart of the problem, worldwide. If you consider socialism as also a mystic belief, especially.

    "Dr. Arthur Janov examines the power of beliefs and how they are used as a
    mechanism for dealing with early trauma that goes as far back as birth."

  26. The tech to get to orbit happens about the same time time as the tech to really do ourselves in. Both require crazy monkeys to invent, so we have to change fast now that we have the prize- free Space to live in. Drop the do ourselves in part.

  27. Never was supposed to be a democracy of any kind. Limited gov constitutional republic, if we could have kept it. Still a chance?

  28. Yes, "The Primal Scream" 1970. Most would have recently heard about it in relation to Lennon/Ono music 50 years ago. edit: you may recall that scientific revolutions take about 50 years to become *possible*.

  29. Yes, but very rarely people that claim such things provide real evidence that confirms that they really said/did what they claim. It is really easy to say "oh by the way I lied to the president about xyz and did not face consequences" if it never happened

  30. Everything you write seems as if it's a string of cut-n-paste clauses with no punctuation or editing to join them properly.

  31. " Jim Jeffrey, the former special envoy for Syria and the fight against the Islamic State, admitted that he deceived Trump about the real number of U.S. soldiers in Syria to maintain a greater force than the White House wanted. "

    In a functioning democracy this would have led to the guy spending the rest of his life making big rocks into small ones. Even the new administration would have gone after him, to establish that the guy in the White House is not to be lied to.

    But we're not really all that functional a democracy anymore.

  32. Am I the only person who feels like this time the Pallets of Cash will be on jets heading for Hunter Biden's house?

  33. "The report claims withdrawing all U.S. troops could lead to civil war,
    destabilizing the region and reviving the al Qaeda threat."

    These countries have been at each others' throats for centuries, long before the USA even existed. If they want to fight each other, it's not America's fault for not stopping them. Every other country on Earth is also not stopping them.

    Maybe it's time to let them figure out for themselves how to make peace with each other. We've tried and we couldn't do it.

    Consider that many of these young fighters are under 18 years old. America has been imposing peace in Afghanistan for their entire lives and it's still not catching on.

    Sunk cost fallacy. Time to cut bait and leave.

  34. Agree, look how happy, prosperous, and safe venezuela became once they kicked out the USA diplomates and did their own thing.

  35. I don't know what I dislike the most: the rant of the village idiot or you harping back to janov. Could you ease up on the janov-tourrette?

  36. That is more like the bigger constitution that even applies to monarchs. If you are cwazy, you may find yourself taking a long swim.

  37. Not really, the US Constitution says Generals can lie to Presidents about troop levels because they really run the executive branch.

  38. US Constitution sets up a stalemate between factions, power addicts, so a stalemate between theocratic power addicts may also hold the line pending understanding of power addiction. Problem with one side winning is that it does not limit their lust for power.

  39. Instead of leaving we could win these wars with drones by bringing mostly drone intelligence gathering and targeting to a much higher level with almost no foot on the ground other than providing essential training and support to local troops. AI and better sensors would have played a role. We could create a model of how to control rogue regions the globe on the cheap with only minimal sacrifice of American troops.

  40. And what will happen when Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities because the. Biden Admin lets up on Iran?

    Very tricky situation for the US. The peace deals are in place to contain Iran.

  41. It is all paper agreement stuff. Without actual change, we could be living with an illusion. But, if things really do stabilize in some sort of enduring peace with ordinary relations between Countries, that would be fantastic.

Comments are closed.