Obama has inherited an America at war with itself in virtually all parts of the world. Somewhere it is kinetic where as at other places there are temporal wars being fought by America. All these are draining precious resources and are leading towards an early demise of the American Century.
Throughout its brief lifetime, America has constantly been in military conflicts both necessary and mostly unnecessary. Does the U.S.A still have a thin layer of imperialism left from the 20th century? Is the U.S.A addicted to war? Lots of people don’t like the war in the Middle East, but the U.S especially seems to be addicted to war in general throughout its history and even today in many parts of their society.
The U.S fought wars for their independence, against Mexico, Spain, and most especially Britain in the War of 1812. After World War II , the country has been in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, with unknown wars in Laos and Cambodia with some other military operations in the regions of Asia. Through the twentieth century’s worst nightmare, the dropping of atom bombs on Japan, America has been in conflict with Soviet Union and now the Muslim World. Prominent being the wars in Iraq andAfghanistan with deep involvement in Israel and Iran. Thus from Middle East to South Asia, America is deeply engaged in various forms of warfare.
Moreover, the U.S invaded, bombed, isolated, stripped, and had military presence in other regions in the world such as Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, the Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Libya, Panama, Grenada, Yemen, and other places.
The present quagmire the US finds itself in is a product of America’s phobia with the Islamic world, barring its standoff with China over Taiwan or the Koreas. The war on terror has turned out to be the worst nightmare for USA and is being construed in the Islamic Word as the “War against Islam”. The overall confusion of not wanting the Mosque at ground zero but acknowledging the legal right to do so and what the Islamic Public diplomacy has not done to exonerate any portion of Islam from complicity in the Jihad against America.
Obama has been trying to woo the muslim world but finds US on the verge of “Vietnamsing” Iraq and Afghanistan amidst public rage over the American involvement in long and bloody conflicts. While America has made little progress in both these countries over the last decade, it has fanned the fires of Political Islam across the globe. As per an opinion:
“Over a year ago, when US President Barack Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo, the response from the region was generally optimistic. Many appreciated the American president’s gesture of respect towards Islam, as well as his recognition of the injustice done to the Palestinian people. Hope existed that he would show a markedly different approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The disappointment that followed was not just the natural lapsing of a honeymoon, but also a reflection of the Obama administration’s failure to follow through on its promises. While the postponement of the closure of Guantanamo Bay and a drawn-out exit from Iraq were undoubtedly a factor, it was on the Palestinian issue that the disillusionment was most bitterly felt, particularly after the administration softened its stance on Israel’s settlements.
This adjustment of attitudes was reflected in the recent Zogby poll, which showed that ‘hopeful’ sentiment about US policy in the Middle East dropped from 51 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2010, with a large majority–63 percent, rather than 15 percent in 2009–of respondents feeling ‘discouraged’ by Obama’s tenure. This is bad news for the administration, considering Obama had made America’s public diplomacy and its image in the Muslim world an American strategic interest its own right. This logic, adopted by Bush and Obama alike, posited that it was essential to convince the Muslim world that the ‘war on terror’ was not a ‘war on Islam’–which would be falling into the trap set by al-Qaeda and other fundamentalists who seek to ignite civilisational wars.”
Resultantly, the Iraq draw down is being hampered by fears of an Iranian takeover or domination in Iraq in a Shia Sunni war amongst the Islamic nations.The imbroglio in Afghanistan is fanning the fires of radical Islamic version of Taliban gaining ground to the detriment of peace in the region and the world. This inferno will not leave the West unscathed as the muslim diaspora across the globe gets radicalised by acolytes of al Qaeda duly supported and sponsored by Pakistan.
In Iraq, Iranian interference in ensuring a pro Iran government or a weak baathist government, is blackmailing the US to maintain a permanent presence. The dilemma of a power vacuum in Iraq being exploited by Shia Iran is the bane of US foreign policy. If this were to happen America would leave the region more radicalised than when it had first entered the scene. A similar scenario is being played out in Afghanistan where Pakistan is blackmailing America for a larger pie in the future solution. When compared, the startling similarities in the post pull out scenarios indicate a violent wave of turbulence sweeping through Middle East and South Asia. The Shia – Sunni divide will play a dominant role in continued destabilising of the region- an internal dynamic over which the Americans hold no sway.
The Israel – Iran standoff and fears of attacks against each other over the middle east crisis see America in an awkward position where the Public opinion wants US out of any Israeli misadventure directly or otherwise. The opinions on this war are strongly against Israel but if followed through have dangerous implications for America.
It is precisely this turbulence which has also encouraged China to enlarge its sphere of Influence in this region by supporting Pakistan and Iran. As brought out earlier in a post, this is a win win situation for China which has quietly upped the ante through its nuclear, military and economic power to muscle its way into the global real politic. This has tied America in knots, where it is fast losing its battles against the Muslim states while losing strategic space in the world to China.
It is in the backdrop of these dire situations across the globe that Obama is visiting India this November. An earlier post had arguedfor greater American strategic equation with India in the long run where it can counter the Chinese influence in the region across a range of geopolitical considerations. The American policy has to charter its path through this minefield of complex scenarios unfolding in Middle East and South Asia. Political Islam on the one hand and Dragon’s fire on the other. America would only be too keen to use India as a bulwark against China and that may happen but it is the spectre of Political Islam which should worry Obama in the short term.
Under these complex equations, India has to play its cards well in these wars, strategically and tactically.