KEN MIDKIFF: Why is the U.S. in the Middle East? Things are worse not better

Middle East USA World

Usually, I comment on issues that impact Columbia and Boone County. But, taking a broader look is sometimes worthwhile. Global issues can have a local impact, though it may not be immediately seen or felt.

From the 1600s to now, the history of the Middle East has been wracked by violence. The area has, at various times and in various places, been subjected to British, French, Spanish and Italian rule. None of these have successfully dealt with the retrograde policies of the country that was subject to their rule.

The entire Middle East — ranging from Afghanistan to the United Arab Emirates — has one thing in common: Women are mostly not seen, not heard and their views (if some dare to express them) not even considered. Until recently in Saudi Arabia, one of the more “advanced” countries, women were not allowed to drive. 

Is it the United States’s goal to ensure the equality of women? Is that the reason why we have thousands of troops in the area? If so, we have a high hill to climb.

What, then, is the goal of the U.S. in the Middle East? Why are we there?

The U.S. presence is, other than a few diplomats, mostly our Armed Forces — soldiers who are most unlikely to resolve violence that has been going on for centuries. Once upon a time, we were there to ensure that oil would keep flowing this way, but that is no longer the case.

If our presence is meant to extend democracy, then why are we sending soldiers? Have we now become the world’s police force?

While I am a “Never-Trumper” and abhor most of his tweets and actions, I did agree with his campaign promise to end our involvement in foreign wars and to get out of Middle East entanglements. But that campaign pledge has been long broken and it appears that we are more involved, not less.

My thinking on this issue resurfaced when we assassinated Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January. While, no doubt, he was a bad dude and got what he deserved, the fact is that most of his enmity and most of his violence was aimed at U.S. soldiers.

If we get out of the Middle East, there is little doubt that things would only get worse without U.S. presence. It appears that, with certain exceptions — such as Israel and Saudi Arabia — our presence is viewed by the Middle East leaders as, at best disruptive, and at worst as making a bad situation more so.

We need to leave the Middle East to its own squabbles and its own violence. We are not accomplishing anything.


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