October 5, 2012

A Splash of Cold Water

Victor Davis Hanson is at it again with a nice post highlighting three current situations that should remind us that knowing and understanding history and what history has to teach us is important. See 'World Order, Under Siege?' for his discussion of Germany vs Europe, Iran vs Israel, and the broader turmoil in the Middle East vs Obama's wrongheaded world view.

One just can't escape the geopolitical realities of our world. Consequently, our policies are most effective when the account for such realities.

On a loosely related note, keep an eye on the clashes developing between Turkey and Syria (two good stories here and here). Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is trying to consolidate his power through a deepening alliance with Islamist elements in his government. Meanwhile, Syria's President, Bashar al Assad, is waging a brutal civil war against a very mature popular insurgency to retain his hold on power. Syrian operations against rebels have led to cross-border attacks into Turkey, with Turkey responding in kind against Syrian installations. Given that Turkey is a member of NATO, there exists the potential that any serious cross-border incursion by Syria could result in Turkey's call for NATO support against Syria. 

This could present a 'back door' option to the US that would enable it to support the rebels against Assad, something our country has been unwilling to do. Adding complexity is the frustration Turkey has had with their Kurdish problem; the Kurds seeking some level of autonomy for their people who occupy an area that overlaps Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The Kurds were generally supportive of US efforts in Iraq since the security umbrella provided by our operations protected their interests relative to the more powerful Shia and Sunni power blocs. Now that we're out of Iraq, however, they are on their own. (In an interesting 'what if' exercise, you could wonder how things might be different in that region had we retained an operational capability in Iraq. How would it have impacted our response to the Syrian uprising, Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear capabilities, the saber-rattling between Iran and Israel, etc., etc.?) Whether US involvement in Syria is advisable or not, it is an evolving situation and one can't know with certainty how it will all fall out.

[Update: See this about challenges in Saudi Arabia. Thanks HR, again, for forwarding.]

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