Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Epic Nonsense

We have another of the genre of America can't do anything right and our foes are brilliant, in this case asserting that China is taking advantage of American mistakes in the Middle East.

Here we go:

The paralyzing and costly zigzags of American policy over the last couple of decades have opened doors for rivals to benefit at its expense. Chief among these is China — gaining massively in regional trade, geopolitical influence, and strategic investment with the indirect aid of American debt, lives, and firepower.

"Paralyzing?" How?? In what sense is America paralyzed? We are still active in the Middle East. Where is the paralysis? This is nonsense.

Costly? Perhaps in absolute terms. But remember how huge America is. In the sweep of history, our casualties and costs are a low burden. Really. Every casualty is a personal tragedy, but in the big picture we kicked ass and took names on the battlefield. And the cost in money has been relatively low. Even in war, our defense burden has been lower than it was during the Cold War. As I've noted, our direct costs to fight in Iraq from the invasion until we won in the surge offensive was about what we committed to spend domestically at the stroke of a pen with the Obama stimulus package.

"Zigzags?" Please explain! Our policy has been to keep hostile powers from dominating the area so the energy can flow to the world and keep economic growth and big power peace the basic norm.

As for rivals benefiting from our military leadership, doesn't that imply that we did something good in the Middle East? Could anybody benefit from mistakes and chaos? Unless you really believe that the Iraq War was a matter of trading our blood for control of their oil, you have to admit that our goal of a stable Middle East not wracked by international and internal wars benefits everybody, whether ally, local resident, foe, or competitor.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

We benefit from a world that is at peace and trades freely. But now we're supposed to wring our hands that China is doing exactly that in the Middle East?

We want people to invest in the Middle East to prevent further wars and reduce the appeal of Islamist ideology, if at all possible. So good for China. That's a feature and not a bug.

Did China invest more purely because of our war in Iraq? Well China is investing more everywhere. It is a function of growing Chinese economic power. And the Middle East is just one leg of the Chinese project to reach Europe to expand trade in that direction. China invests a lot in Pakistan, too, where America did not fight a war to protect allies and destroy a thug bloody ruler.

In what way would China have not used their expanding economic and military power to increase influence in the Middle East if America had not destroyed the Saddam regime and defended the new government to give it a chance to have rule of law and democracy?

I just don't see the massive geopolitical influence the author sees. China's relationship with Iran pre-dated the destruction of the Saddam regime. And Chinese relations with Saudi Arabia go back many decades, too.

But does anybody seriously think improved Chinese relations with Israel threaten our relationship with Israel?

The only tangible geopolitical gain I can see is the Chinese base in Djibouti that is a new feature of the Chinese trade investment project that spans the Indian Ocean on the way to Europe.

And in a Middle East at war, wouldn't China have even more room to make gains given their comfort with dictators and selling them whatever weapons they want?

It sounds like our policies have worked rather than being mistaken. But some people annoyingly just can't recognize victory when they see it.

Mind you, this doesn't mean we shouldn't work to keep China from denying America and our allies benefits from a better Middle East--or to keep China from undermining that success.

But if you want to believe solving one problem means all problems in the future are resolved, you have to get over that fantasy and accept that success in one problem is just the entry ticket to the next problem.

Good grief, that article was a mess of incoherent nonsense. I resent the time I lost reading it.

UPDATE: Mind you, I'm not saying we've achieved a stable Middle East. But we did not cause the chaos. We're just trying to cope as best we can until the place settles down with our help. And apparently there is enough stability for China to enter the region.