Kissinger: It’s Complicated with the Arab Spring
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  • Anthony

    Foreign policy outcomes in Middle East or else where without recognition of “real sentiment” of influential actors as Secretary Kissinger intimates will continue to be sobering to United States interests.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    When your culture is as backward as the Islamic Cultures, any change is a step forward.

  • Sometimes I feel sorry for Israel for being plunked down in the middle of that world.

  • Some very good and timely reminders of the REAL social forces that had, for 3 decades, been simmering beneath a very thin layer of pro-American (liberalized? marketized? Westernized? – frankly I’m at a loss for adjectives) economic and foreign policy. In Egypt anyway; arguably also in Pakistan. 30 years of intensive Salafication of Islamic life, and in particular of its public dimension. And now we come to wondering why, at the end of it all, the great masses of people in both countries distrust us at best, and hate us at worst. And why Wahhabi/Salafi ideologies and agendas in turn have spread like wildfire throughout the Sunni Muslim world.

    There may be a few of us able to discern the outlines of a post-Blue Middle East, or even of a post-Blue greater Eurasia. But very few, if any, of us are going to be able to predict the moral upshot (or fallout?) of either one, precisely because these are the results most dependent on the moral and cultural choices we all make right now. And I do mean all of us – including us “powerless” or “declining” Americans. These choices will be in turn – inevitably – shaped, colored, textured by the way we Yanks choose to look at the past 80 years in both our own country and the world. A period whose beginning coincides – quite appropriately, IMO – with the onset of US commercial oil relations with Saudi Arabia.

    Right now it’s great fun in some quarters to ridicule, stereotype, even demonize the assumptions and agendas that underlay the politics of the FIRST 40 of those 80 years. But right now we’re also in a tunnel with many turnings, and it’s not clear from which end of any of them the light is glimmering most brightly. Or closest at hand. Now personally I doubt we’re going to see much of any clear, unmistakable light, until we start looking more critically at the assumptions and agendas peculiar to the SECOND 40 of those 80 years. Critically – in other words, in the most unflinching, unromantic, un-utopian and (dare I even suggest it?) unglobalist way we can. That may mean a little more criticism of both our (Saudi- and Paki-fueled) demonization of Russia, and of our (Saudi- and Paki-accommodating) romanticization of Islam. Of which habits at least the latter carried well into the 1990s, if not the 2000s (Graham Fuller anyone? Cf. http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=graham_fuller).

    Above all, I think we need to examine more critically the whole Trilateralist project, as Professor Mead has so ably sketched and questioned its premises (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577305531821651026.html), since c. 1970. Personally, again, I have little doubt these learned and influential gentlemen THOUGHT they were minimizing the risk of symmetrical warfare among great and medium-size powers, by maximizing the depth of global economic interdependence among both big and small, diversified and resource-dependent economies. As well as upgrading considerably the amount of US leverage needed to shape events and policies throughout the Euro-Asian landmass. What they actually succeeded in doing to Eurasia may only be clear a decade or two from now. And even then, I suspect, only if present intellectual trends (prejudices?) continue. Assuming they do, I fear these elite gentlemen will be remembered as having irreversibly secured the preponderant leverage of Germany within Europe, of Saudi Arabia within the Middle East, and of China within East and South Asia. With what degree of remaining Eurasian advantage, leverage or even input from the US – much less other “Oceanians” – I can only leave my readers to imagine.

    I hope I’m being alarmist.

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