In this blog I discuss mainly economic and fiscal issues because it is in this area where the U.S. is in the greatest long term danger. However our national welfare depends on good policy in many other areas as well. For example, our best friends internationally are other democracies and so the spread of democracy around the world is in our best interest.
But more specifically what should we be doing in the Middle East which is such a big mess? To what extent should we take sides in the ongoing wars in this part of the world? Should we rather withdraw completely?
Here are the stakes for the U.S. in the Middle East:
- We want Turkey to remain an ally. It is a democracy and the only majority Muslim member of NATO. It occupies a strategic position between Europe and the Middle East. Over three million Syrian war refugees now live in Turkey and are straining the Turkish economy. Turkey is not our enemy.
- Russia and Iran are our enemies and, unfortunately, this will probably not change in the near future. Russia is in demographic and economic (because of low oil prices) decline and Vladimir Putin is a troublemaker. Iran wants nuclear weapons and considers the U.S. to be the Great Satan.
- The brave Kurdish people, spread out between Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, are caught in the middle. They want their own country of Kurdistan but they are not nearly strong enough to make this happen. Turkey President Erdogan views the Kurds as terrorists.
Something has to give. We don’t have a stake in the Syrian conflict and we can only do so much to protect the Kurds. By withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, President Trump is moving in the right direction even if doing so clumsily.
Conclusion. We should coordinate with Turkey in trying to end the Syrian war, protecting the Kurds as much as possible. We cannot realistically completely withdraw from the Middle East.