"After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative," the New York Times reported October 30. Part of that plan may be to leave additional troops in Kuwait, for years a staging area for the Iraq war, or simply to float a larger naval fleet in the Persian Gulf.
But the Obama administration has another alternative they are floating to create "security" in the Islamic world, the New York Times reported: "The administration and the military are trying to foster a new 'security architecture' for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense."
That "security architecture" may include boosting existing security alliances in the Arab world, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a 30-year-old group of six Persian Gulf dictatorships led by Saudi Arabia. The GCC is both a NATO and European Common Market-style organization with a customs union agreement that was inked in 2003. The GCC's six nations on the Arabian peninsula together have one trillion dollars in GDP, and the GCC is considering membership requests from Jordan and Morocco. "Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia," the New York Times reported. "It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan."
Obama administration officials advocating the strengthening of the GCC's security authority should be concerned by the fact that Saudi and United Arab Emirates military forces were used earlier this year to crack down on Arab Spring demonstrators criticizing Bahrain's royal family. Indeed, it is U.S. support for dictators across the Islamic world for the past two generations that has led to widespread dislike of the United States in the Islamic world. One-time CIA ally Osama bin Ladin was built up in part because of U.S. policy to oppose the Soviets in Afghanistan, but he turned on his U.S. ally after the war when the U.S. government left bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the first Iraqi war.
“It’s not going to be a NATO tomorrow,” the New York Times quoted an unnamed "senior administration official" who indicated that diplomatic negotiations are already under way, “but the idea is to move to a more integrated effort."
But even if one takes the simplistic and ignorant view that suppression of the Arab Spring protests in favor of Arabian peninsula dictatorships prevents formation of "radical Islamist" regimes, and that Islam is inherently anti-democratic (as Catholicism was once alleged to be), it still leaves the question: Is it a good idea to be uniting the Islamic world into a single military force?
Either interpretation seems to indicate that the Obama administration is secretly trying to recreate American foreign policy errors — but this time on a dramatic scale.
Photo of U.S. soldier in Iraq: AP Images