Monday, November 06, 2006

The New, New Middle East

Richard Haass is President of the Council On Foreign Relations, or the CFR; the CFR has about 5,000 members, mostly ex-spooks, ex-gov, and ex-defense people along with academics and some media types. It's not an official government organization because it's more important than one; I can feel the suspense build as this fact begins to excite you beyond words, but bear with me.

Mr. Haass emerged from whatever cloister he keeps himself in to write an article in Foreign Affairs he calls The New Middle East, and it is The Establishment Plan on what to do next. As I wrote in It's All Part Of My Neocon Fantasy, the people who longed for and started the wars with Iraq are admitting their "hard power" solution has failed, of course through no fault of their own. We're going to hear this "stabbed in the back" refrain an awful lot in the future: The policy was perfect in its brilliance, but the lackeys who executed it were incompetent.

So now Perle and his crowd of Undead are going to support a "soft power" solution. They'll go to neo-liberals (people like Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Bill-n-Hillary Clinton) and attempt to make friends. Welcome to Castle Dracula. Enter freely, and of your own will. By publishing his article, Richard Haass has kindly thrown out the first softball so that the necons and neoliberals can find a way to play together. Here is his opening statement:
The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun. It will be shaped by new actors and new forces competing for influence, and to master it, Washington will have to rely more on diplomacy than on military might.
Here's the skinny: a "diplomatic" solution to the Mid-East Mess will feature the old regime-change methods of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization to play carrot-and-stick games with Iraq and Iran. Meanwhile they'll begin a serious domestic policy push for alternative energy stimulus. It's very likely they'll tax oil and gasoline to fund it, or so would be the logic. There are five small problems with the diplomacy/energy alternatives/demand destruction ("DEADD") approach:

1) the ROTW (rest of the world) is not on board with The Plan;
2) Iran and most of what's left of Iraq will tell us to stuff The Plan;
3) no energy alternatives can be brought on-line quickly enough to replace oil;
4) increasing taxes on fossil fuel usage will trigger a domestic depression;
5) Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are planning to attack Iran anyway.

Whether the neocons or neoliberals are in power, the objectives are the same; to get Iran and Iraq to bend to our will, and to gain direct control of their resources. They aren't buying it with hard power, and they won't buy it with soft power. This Haass thing is the policy equivalent of a sleazeball seeing a woman at a party whom he forcibly raped the week before, only this time his plan is to score by slipping a date-rape drug into her drink. What are the odds he'll go home alone, and if, in the unlikely event he does not, will it be worth it?

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