The President spoke about the United States’ obligation to respond to the threat posed by ISIL. The fact is – there is no good option. The Middle East is a quagmire of religious strife. Regardless of what the US does; how many military die; how much it cost; there is no good, lasting solution. The Sunni and Shia Muslims have been at blood war for over a thousand years, and nothing the US can do will change that.
Colon Powell told the Bush administration that ‘if we break it we will own it.’ And, we broke it.
Saddam Hussein maintained a balance of power throughout the Middle East and when the US invaded Iraq and removed Saddam it unleashed the sand storm of ethnic violence.
Even though we were the initial cause of the problem with our Nation Building, defeating ISIL should not be our responsibility. The neighboring Shiite countries endangered by ISIL have the primary responsibility to band together and confront their mutual enemy. But it is not likely they will act when they can wait on the United States to step in and expend its wealth and manpower to confront their enemy?
The US has no loyal allies in the Middle East. No Muslim country will align itself with what, in the Middle East, is viewed as a Christian nation and the Great Satan. They will gladly accept foreign aid and military aid, but they can never be counted on as a staunch ally.
Saudi Arabia is a perfect example. They overtly align themselves with the US. Saudis work with the US to stabilize oil prices; they depend on the US to protect oil shipments in the Persian Gulf; they hold major investments in US companies; they have the fourth largest group of international students studying in the United States; many of their military officers are trained in the United States; and they have made huge purchase of high tech US military equipment.
In return Saudi Arabia has opposed the State of Israel; they have joined in oil embargoes against the US; they opposed the invasion of Iraq; 15 of the 19 hijackers that attacked the Twin Towers were Saudis; and, according to the US State Department wealthy Saudi donors constitute the most significant source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups – including ISIL.
We must ask ourselves: Does ISIL pose a threat to the United States? And the answer, of course, is ambiguous: ISLIL does not pose an immediate threat to the United States, but may in the future; however, it poses a present and immediate threat to the surrounding Shia nations in the Middle East – yet they choose not to act militarily.
So what do we do? We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.