The Mideast, or southwest Asia as we say now, has been problematic through recorded history. Our position of ‘stabilizing’ the Mideast has no exemplars of success to rely upon, and a trail of unambiguous failures, yet it is steady as she goes on the ship of state. Working backwards, I saw Iraq in 2003 not only as presenting no threat of any kind, but thought it so weak that it was only the implicit threat of U.S. action, and a lack of trust for one another that kept Iraq’s neighbors from dismembering it. I didn’t care that undemocratic Iraq annexed undemocratic Kuwait back in 1990. But I suggested it would occur in 1988 when the Iran-Iraq war came to a fruitless end. Then Saddam had a large veteran military, debts he couldn’t pay to Kuwait and elsewhere, a loss of face needing redress, and the Kuwaitis were slant drilling into Iraq and defenseless: why wouldn’t a dictator in that position invade little Kuwait.
I would never have sent Americans into Lebanon in 1982. I would have accepted the Iranian revolution, in that it over threw a truly horrible regime. I would have refused asylum to Pahlavi. And so forth back to WW1. Either leave Arabia to the Turks or let the Arabs hash out what they want for themselves. The Persians too, the Shah’s Dad was simply a military leader who threw out the old Safawid dynasty. The Pahlavi’s had no historical claim to anything; in fact the dynasty’s founder spoke Farsi with a Russian accent they say. Regardless because they have only oil to sell, it puts the purchasing countries in the driver’s seat. If we and our NATO allies plus our Pacific allies embargoed Arab/Persian oil, we all would suffer. But they would suffer more. We would be inconvenienced, they would be hungry. I’d put some Naval/Marine forces in Qatar and Oman and call it sufficient for our interests. Even a united greater Arab state poses no threat to us, because it has no homegrown industry or technology. It doesn’t matter how many arms they buy from Russia, if they can’t replace materiel losses they lose, and we can interdict supply lines of major goods from Russia or elsewhere. In fact a larger Arab state would be to Israel’s advantage, it is likely a larger Arab state covering say Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, plus parts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, would have the land, the resources, and the political ability to resettle displaced Arabs and sign a peace deal.
In any case the Arabs and Muslims are not the problem; the feeble efforts directed against us could be eliminated by noninterference in their affairs. We have big problems that we are not addressing, Chinese economic and space competition, and the still overvalued the dollar.
We need some Geographers in the new government we need.