Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Domino Theory

We’ve now invited the Iranians to the talks on what to do about ISIS (“After a US Shift, Iran Has a Seat at Talks on War in Syria,” NYT, 10/28/15) and president Obama has announced that ground troops will aid the Kurds in Northern Syria on the Turkish border (“Obama Sends Special Operations Forces to Help Fight ISIS in Syria,” NYT, 10/30/15) By the way is the motivation for these initiatives to aid in the war against ISIS or merely to even the playing field with the Russians? But the Iranians support the Shiite Houthis who are the enemies of our allies, the Saudis, in Yemen and the same Kurds who are fighting ISIS have also been involved in a long territorial against the Turks, also strategic allies of the US. Have you ever been in a business situation where you allied yourself with a one time enemy against another common enemy, knowing that that you will, at the end of the struggle in question, inevitably part ways and resume your original adversarial stance? That's the position we find ourselves in with the Russians who are also sometimes allies with us against ISIS. Benjamin Netanyahu told congress “So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy” and if he is right, it doesn’t bode well for the game of musical beds that might describe our current foreign policy. To quote the title of the George Roy Hill film about returning Korean War vets we’ll have gone through a Period of Adjustment that could lead us right back to where we started. The Kurds with be at war with the Turks, the Shiite Iranians at war with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and any other strongholds of Sunni political power, with the Iranians resuming the rhetoric which identifies the United States as the great satan. It’s a proxy war with both East and West facing off under the camouflage of their  respective clients, the largest of which may be Bashar al-Assad who is Vladmir Putin’s most expensive Middle East chip. During the Cold War "spheres of influence" was a term that was often bandied about to describe this kind of thinking. Another iteration, "the domino theory," accounted for the underlying paranoia about what would happen when a major power’s sphere of influence was threatened.

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