At Reason, Tim Cavanaugh discusses the situation:
In a move that will please critics of craven American foreign policy, the U.S. Air Force is reportedly planning to shift its major operations center in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to Qatar.This does please me. But as Cavanaugh suggests, it really doesn't mean anything. Radical arabs won't be impressed by it. And it certainly does not mean we are disengaging from the region.
Rumsfeld ... harbors no illusions about a serene future, for Iraq or for the United States. He knows, even if he doesn't quite come out and say, that we're going to be in the Middle East forever. There will be no disengaging—not from the Saudis, not from the Iraqis, not from the Israelis, not from anybody. This futureless land, where hatred, violence and madness constitute the coin of the realm, is our new home. That guy with the bloody head? He's your new neighbor. Your children's children will be dealing with him.Surely a reason to rethink, IMO. But that's not going to happen with the neocons running the show.
Ultimately, we are in the mideast for one reason only: oil. Sure "terrorism" is an issue, but terrorism requires social injustice to get recruits, and it requires weapons and money; and those things are in the mideast only because they have oil. As has been pointed out repeatedly in blogdom, if we were really an empire, we wouldn't be paying the locals for "their" oil. We'd be ruling them outright and it would be "our" oil, no payment necessary. That we don't simply take the oil speaks well of our collective moral character. But the money we pay for the "their" oil has the unfortunate side effect of causing us problems. We are too nice *paying them) to get away with being nasty to them (supporting their venal rulers).
As long as rich terrorists hate us, we won't be safe. I propose to end the "hate us" part. But there are other options: end the "rich" part. The oil is finite. So we won't need to be over there unto the second generation; just another 20 years or so. When the oil runs out, there will be no more need for engagement. Perhaps Rummy and com'ny are crazy like a fox. It's a classic pump and dump, but on the level of countries - and very literal. We'll drain 'em, then we'll leave 'em high and dry.
I still think disengagement, as soon as possible, is a better strategy than engagement. That's because I think that within 20 years, rich terrorists will get a nuclear device. We can't stop that; we can only arrange to be on better terms when it happens. But I realize this is an unpopular viewpoint. Americans are Puritans, eager to scold, to preach, and to uplift. The Christian heresy of secular salvation is alive and well in America. And so we will continue to engage, as Cavanaugh says, even though we don't like to admit that to ourselves. Given that, I want our rulers to have a plan to deal with the terrorist Arab money problem - even if it is coldly cynical and exploitative. That's still better than if they were engaging for the pap reasons they feed to the public - to help Iraqis, to enforce the UN's mandates, etc.