We care about the Middle East because of oil, and Israel.
In the middle of WW2 Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes wrote a column called, “We’re running out of oil.” The U.S. produced 90% of the oil used by the Allies. That oil won the war, but it couldn’t be sustained. So in 1943 Ickes sent the best oil man in the country, Everette DeGolyer, to the Persian Gulf to size up its potential. The report: “The oil in this region is the single greatest prize in all history.” We’ve been messing in the region ever since. We wanted the oil, and we didn’t want anyone else to get it.
The oil’s still there, but we don’t need it any more. Other people do, but not us. We won’t fight a war for it. Been there, done that. Let the Chinese and the Germans go fight ISIS, or whatever the hell they want to do. It’s not our problem.
But what if ISIS gets a bomb and smuggles it into the U.S.? But what is the likelihood of that, if we have, essentially, withdrawn from the whole region? Why would they bomb us, and bring the wrath of God down on themselves? The more we mess in the Middle East, the more likely these crazy bastards are to do something like that. Get the hell out, and do whatever we can to secure Israel — short of sending troops. That we should not do.
The 20th and 21st centuries are The Hydrocarbon Age, and geopolitics is oil politics. Fracking revolutionized geopolitics by making the U.S. not only energy independent, but an energy exporter once again. Together, fracking and the fall of Communism have made NATO a Cold War artifact.
The 1952 Republican Presidential primary between Eisenhower and Robert A. Taft was all about NATO, which Taft opposed. He was a non-interventionist who was labeled an isolationist. Taft was responsible for Taft-Hartley, which eventually led to the resurgence of the Republican Party. He opposed internment of the Japanese in WW2. But Wall Street Eisenhower beat Main Street Taft, and the American people chose to continue the global war against Communism. Now Communism is gone, and the rationale for NATO went with it.
The Germans decided to fight the Russians a hundred years ago, and we got into two World Wars, in part, to stop them. Now the Russians may want to take on the Germans, and we’ve committed ourselves to intervene on behalf of the Germans. To hell with that. If the Russians and Germans really want to go at it again, that’s their business. Is anyone really worried about the Red Army going back to Berlin? Do we want American soldiers to die to prevent that? No, it’s bullshit. The American people won’t go to war in Europe again. That’s so 20th Century. That’s a political reality. Basing your foreign policy on a threat of war that no serious person believes is ridiculous. We’re not going to war, and we may as well admit it, and deal with the consequences.
Right now the Middle East is a bloodbath, and will be for a long time. Innocents are dying every day. Christians and other minorities are persecuted, even slaughtered. No one knows how it will all turn out. But there are innocents dying all over the world. Christians are being persecuted, and killed, in Africa. Tribal and ethnic conflict abound across the globe. Humanitarian missions are possible here and there, on a selective basis. But war with ISIS is the wrong selection. The Shias who will actually fight ISIS are as crazy as they are.
You can hear the drums of war. Lindsey Graham is the prime war drummer, but there are others. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others are talking all macho. That’s what you do when you want Sheldon Adelson’s money. It’s conceivable that war in the Middle East will be a defining issue in the Republican nomination fight. Rand Paul has staked out a clear antiwar position. Who will join him there?
Does Robert A. Taft have a political heir?