CHICAGO: The Middle East has been a trouble spot for the United States and the world, ever since Iran attacked and overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. Due to President Carter’s refusal to retaliate for that act of war against America by the Ayatollahs who overthrew the Shah, there has been a crisis after crisis with no reprieve in sight. All of these crises have one thing in common; they obfuscate the real threats facing America.
Several interrelated issues cause the never-ending nature of crises in that area.
The first is religion.
The clash of cultures between Islamic and non-Muslim beliefs has caused friction in that region ever since Islamist forced Islam upon inhabitants of the area by crusading Muslims, both during and after the death of Mohammad.
The second part of the equation is oil.
The industrial nations of the world require oil to fuel their engines of production. Without oil, no industrialized nation on earth can feed their populations and grow their economy. The Middle East had almost a monopoly on oil production. That near-monopoly created the oil crisis that also went unanswered by President Carter. Where we saw, for the first and only time in American history, lines at gas stations for everyday needs.
America always had the means to counter the Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) that caused a worldwide shortage of oil to raise prices, but not the will. Due to Democrats in office passing laws that inhibited the growth of American exploration and production of oil in this nation, OPEC controlled the oil market. It was during the Iran-Iraq war that that OPEC monopoly began to falter, and American politicians began to realize that our national security depended on more American oil.
Because of national security needs, we have gone to war in that region several times to protect ours and our NATO partners. In each instance, we seem to be drawn further into an area that has had an endless war since before recorded history. In fact, for the past 19 years, we have been involved in a constant battle in that region.
But a lot has changed during those 19 years.
The two most significant changes are that we are now oil independent and that President Trump was elected to office, in part, due to his promise to extract us from these endless wars. Yet, we find ourselves once again at the brink of expanded warfare in that region due to President Trump’s assassination of the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani.
A second development in the area, mostly under-reported, is that ISIS is once again gaining power. According to a report at BBC.com, Kurdish and Western (unspecified which western) intelligence agencies indicate that ISIS is once again growing in power and manpower, in Iraq.
They are positioned in the no-mans-land between Kurdish and Iraq government forces in a mountainous region where they hide in caves, just as al-Qaeda did before them.
ISIS learned from its caliphate days that it no longer requires land, only a presence to make a difference.
Today’s ISIS is poised to strike north towards the Kurds, or south against Iraqi forces. ISIS does not like either side, as they are Sunni Muslims, and the majority of Iraqi troops are Shi’ite Muslims. ISIS is the only defenders of the Sunni Muslim minority in Iraq and welcomed by many. These two facts draw us closer to committing our troops to maintain regional peace, whether we want to or not.
The interconnected religious and cultural mixture is a nightmare by anyone’s definition and a political demon for anyone trying to fix it. Many American Presidents have tried, all have failed. Only through strength, has the area calmed its fratricidal instincts for any time.
President Reagan’s pummeling of Iran’s naval ports (Operation Praying Mantis, April 1988) after Iran mined the Persian Gulf, which damaged an American warship, quelled Iran’s interference in the region for many years until Obama’s pandering once again empowered Iran to them.
Reagan’s attack was also payback to Iran for its part in the October 1983 Beirut, Lebanon, Marine Corps barracks attack where 241 U.S. servicemen and 58 French military troops died, through use of their proxy forces in Lebanon and Syria.
Iran uses proxy forces outside their borders, directed by the Quds Force through their commander, Qassem Soleimani.
Yes, Soleimani deserved to die. The number of American’s killed directly as a result of his actions number in the thousands. That no other President removed Soleimani before President Trump is disrespectful to every man and woman who ever wore a military uniform. Presidents allowing that man to walk, fearlessly, on the face of the earth, are disgraceful.
Iran, seemingly forgetting that Obama is no longer in office and that Democrats do not control both houses of congress, bluster that they will make America suffer for killing Soleimani. President Trump has not promised. Instead, he threatened Iran that any retaliation against America, or our regional partners, will result in severe actions, thus putting us on the precipice of war in the region once again.
Before we puff up our chests and blunder our way into another year’s long war, we have to first assess our interest in that region and our place in the world. As we are no longer oil-dependent, our national interest there is zero. Our NATO allies, as well as all of our Asian partners, are still dependant on that oil, so we still do have a security interest there.
Yet, going into a full-fledged war in the Middle East is not in our national interest. Showing strength will calm the region, as was demonstrated by President Reagan. President Trump is wise enough to do the same to snuff out the Ayatollah’s bluster while keeping an eye out for their subterfuge through their proxies.
Our national and international interest has to be in keeping our focus on rebuilding our military to face China and Russia, both of whom are presently challenging our world standing. President Trump’s focus is on this path, over the objections of the Democrat House. While all the media centers on the crisis in the Middle East, our real danger lies elsewhere.
The crisis in the Middle East is a never-ending one that needs to be contained, yet not consuming us as it has in the past. It creates a haze that spreads fear beyond reasonableness in some, spread by a media full of hatred for our President.
Luckily for all of us, President Trump is a man of courage who has shown that he will not be sidetracked from Keeping America Great while keeping us out of endless wars.
About the author:
Joseph Ragonese is a veteran of the United States Air Force, a retired police officer, has a degree in Criminal Justice, a businessman, journalist, editor, publisher and fiction author.