Posted on: May 31, 2013 Posted by: Mitchell Plitnick Comments: 2

There’s a lot of talk out there about the death of the Sykes-Picot agreement in the Mideast. There may be a lot of truth in that, but in any case, it does not mean the US and the West in general has no responsibility to help fix the mess they’ve made of the region. I expound this week in Souciant.

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  1. Mitchell,
    I have great respect for the views expressed in your articles. This time I have doubts about your view of what the US should do in the MIddle East. Not that I disagree with the vision you propose, but rather the dubious ability of the US to undertake such a thing. Attempts to intervene in the Middle East under the guise of good, well intentioned actions have been disastrous as you have pointed out. It just doesn’t seem at all likely that in our time such benevolent policies are apt to be instituted, and facing that, I find myself, to my surprise agreeing with Buchanan. Intervention even with the best of intentions perhaps are destined to be deleterious to what would otherwise be a working out of the mess by the people of the region themselves.There obviously would be results the US would not like, but that to me makes the point against further intervention, signifying as it does the uinlikely proposition that the US could cleanly bring or support such goodies. However, given what seems to me to be a law of “up sides and down sides” to geopolitical efforts, there would be an up side, if such a thing were instituted. In retrospect, the past becomes just what is so, some ups and some downs, but looking to the future, no such opportunity exists to evaluate results..
    Jack Berriault
    The Israel Palestine Project

  2. Hi, Jack and thanks for writing.
    I think I explicitly deal with this question in the article. What I think is morally imperative for the US to do is not to intervene in any way, but rather to support those forces in the Mideast which are working toward building transparent governments, protect civil and human rights, and in general build a strong and functioning civil society infrastructure. Those people and groups are there; no one needs us to build or guide them. But having been such a huge factor in creating this mess, ethics dictate we help people overcome the unusual obstacles we ourselves have created.
    Having said all that, I think I make it equally clear that there is no feasible future where I see the United States or EU being capable of doing that. In practice, then, I agree with just getting out, since, after all, if we cannot do anything but harm we should don nothing. Where I strongly disagree is with his conclusion that Syria “is not America’s war.” Unfortunately, everything the Mideast faces today is “our war,” along with Britain, France and Russia, the major imperial powers who made the region what it is today.
    It’s one thing to say we can’t do any good in the Mideast. It’s very much another to say we have no responsibility there.

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