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Shifting sifting sands of US Middle East policy

Foreign policy appears in the dark
Foreign policy appears in the dark
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Obama's 'Inclusive agenda' talk hits home. While U.S. and other western political leaders watch events unfold in Iraq, President Obama spouts truisms from the sidelines. Here is one.

“‘Only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis,’ Obama declared at the White House.”


Yes indeed, not unlike here in America where questions remain about the alignment of the Obama agenda with citizens and alignment of political parties with all of those.

Foreign policy is back in the lead, specifically, foreign policy in the Middle East where one thing leads to another, each singularly different, and all connected by common threads.

Middle East foreign policy:


  • Oil
  • Antiterrorism


  • Sustainable economics
  • Self-determination
  • Democratization
  • Stability

What is in the dossier?

The Obama doctrine:

““In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional divisions between nations of the South and the North make no sense in an interconnected world; nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War.”

– President Obama, United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 2009

Middle East and North Africa

“Two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. I believed then -– and I believe now -– that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals. The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder. So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.”

– President Obama, State Department, May 19, 2011”

And, of course Iran must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"U.S. policies in the region include:

  • Helping Iraqis build a unified, stable, and prosperous country;
  • Renewing progress toward the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict;
  • Working against terrorists and their state sponsors, as well as against the spread of weapons of mass destruction; and
  • Supporting efforts at economic and political reform in the region."

Progress report:

In every instance, the struggle to produce democratic governments for self-determined people contains common conflicts that are rooted in religious beliefs that are often interpreted to be in conflict with the broader good of humanity as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for instance. Muslim sects and tribal sects are in conflict with one another and with the greater good as recognized by the free world. Outsiders seek to influence, but the U.S. policy also strives to respect individual actors in their internal path to self-determination.

There is broad latitude for what may be acceptable outcomes, but one certain thing is that terrorism and radical insurgents of all kinds are unacceptable. Nation states that harbor terror are considered as enemies unless they join to combat it.

Each Middle Eastern country is in a different state of development with “fits and starts”. At present, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt are all in sifting and shifting sands.

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