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Op-Ed | Is America's reign as a superpower ending?

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Opinion: Is America's reign as a superpower ending?


Barack Obama does not want to be remembered as the President who embarked on a third Mideast adventure

CNN
By Andreas Krieg
12 December 2014

The Pentagon's recent statement that Iran may have conducted air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq's Diyala Province is tantamount to a U.S. tacit approval of Iran's growing military footprint in Iraq.

No military operation of such scale evades detection from U.S. radars. Even if not pre-approved or coordinated, Iran's air and ground operations against the murderous thugs of self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi make the Islamic Republic effectively a U.S. partner in the fight against America's greatest enemy: Islamist fundamentalism.

The U.S. strategy towards the Middle East since the Arab Spring has been defined by proactive disengagement and hesitance.

Haunted by the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan, the American public has no stomach to get bogged down in lengthy ground-intense military operations -- particularly not to fight a fight that at least in Washington is perceived to be primarily a matter of regional concern.

And it seems as if apart from a general war fatigue and casualty aversion back home, U.S. President Barack Obama does not want to be remembered as the President who embarked on a third Middle East adventure. As a hostage of public opinion, Obama in his second term increasingly appears to be the lame-duck choosing a path of minimal resistance overseas, making decisions not based on long-term strategic considerations but based on a short-term approach of damage control.

In Libya, Syria and Iraq the U.S. has taken a backseat calling on local partners and proxies to take over. Any ex-ante foreclosure of boots on the ground means that the U.S. will not bring its military might to bear to deal with those threatening to tear the Middle East apart.

In Syria the U.S. ignored the problem of Bashar al-Assad, in Iraq it turned a blind eye to Nouri al-Maliki's policies of exclusion while allowing Libya to degenerate into a state of anarchy. Without a sustainable proactive strategy towards the Middle East, the U.S. policy towards the region was more often than not shaped in reaction to quickly escalating events on the ground.

As a result, the U.S. today looks at a region where the states of Libya, Syria and Iraq have effectively ceased to exist. The socio-political vacuum has been filled by transnational non-state actors of whom many subscribe to the black banners of jihadism -- something that leaves the American public deeply unsettled.

The broadcasted images of U.S. citizens being brutally beheaded in front of a global audience shook America to its core. After years of relative disengagement and idleness, Obama is now forced to do something in Syria and Iraq at last. Thereby, the overriding principle seems to be to keep the military footprint as small as possible.

The major burden of intervention has to be borne by force multipliers who operationally as well as strategically substitute U.S. willingness and capability -- all this in a war that is no longer about protecting the revolutionary achievements of the Arab Spring but about primarily containing the threat of Islamist fundamentalism.

In this war, Libyan renegade general General Khalifa Haftar, al-Assad and Iran are the lesser of two evils. The unlikely coalition formed the multilateral response of the U.S. administration to the dilemma of reconciling public security concerns with public war fatigue. Everyone seems welcome. Yet, Iran appears the more reliable partner: a regional superpower with the necessary capability, strategic will and input on the ground.

Good cooperation with Tehran, even if indirect, allows the U.S. to put pressure on its Arab partners in the Gulf to step up their game against Islamist fundamentalism in the region.

At the same time the U.S. wants the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf to constructively commit to providing the options on the ground, the U.S. is no longer able or willing to provide. Not to forget, the rapprochement with Iran also allows Obama to put a final end to Netanyahu's saber rattling vis-à-vis Tehran. The U.S., although committed to Israel's security, will not be available for a military solution to the Iranian nuclear question.

The American-Iranian rapprochement on the region's most sensitive battlefield of all things, further undermines America's position in the Middle East.

Apart from losing the hearts and minds of the region, America's credibility as a superpower is in doubt as long as capability is constrained by the political unwillingness to use it.

Without the American willpower to take a more long-term strategic approach to tackling the socio-political root causes of regional upheaval, regional players, including al-Assad, will step in to develop their own strategy independently. The result will be a gradual intensification of regional confrontation along sectarian and ideological fault lines -- a confrontation to which the U.S. will be a mere onlooker.

CNN Editor's note: Andreas Krieg is an assistant professor at the Defence Studies Department of King's College London. He currently works as an advisor to the Qatari Armed Forces in Doha. Follow him on Twitter. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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4 comments :

  1. Presenting the $303 Trillion in Derivatives that US Tax Payers are Now on the Hook For

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-12/presenting-303-trillion-derivatives-us-taxpayers-are-now-hook

    If ever proof were needed of Congress stupidity........ Europe will be next.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on IMF Quota and Governance Reforms
    Press Release No.14/568
    December 12, 2014
    Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today:
    “The IMF’s membership has been calling on and was expecting the United States to approve the IMF’s 2010 Quota and Governance Reforms by year end. Adoption of the reforms remains critical to strengthen the Fund’s credibility, legitimacy, and effectiveness, and to ensure it has sufficient permanent resources to meet its members’ needs.
    “I have now been informed by the U.S. Administration that the reforms are not included in the budget legislation currently before the U.S. Congress. I have expressed my disappointment to the U.S authorities and hope that they continue to work toward speedy ratification.
    “As requested by our membership, we will now proceed to discuss alternative options for advancing quota and governance reforms and ensuring that the Fund has adequate resources, starting with an Executive Board meeting in January 2015.”

    http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2014/pr14568.htm
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    From reports, it appears that Europe is going the way of the BRICS...

    ReplyDelete
  3. BRICS Gaining Control of IMF; U.S., Inc. Isolated
    http://galacticconnection.com/brics-gaining-control-imf-u-s-inc-isolated/

    The global financial reset is imminent, and the Republic of United States will reemerge as all necessary preparations are completed.
    The Israel controlled US Congress is deliberately ignoring ratification of IMF reforms, and decides to play hard ball.
    These childish actions will surely amount to nothing as the rest of the world are about to welcome the “new normal”.

    US isolated, BRICS to get greater voting power at IMF
    December 13, 2014, 4:31 am
    Months after the formation of new financial institutions like the $100 billion BRICS Bank and the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said Friday that the organization is ready to discuss IMF voting reforms without the United States to give BRICS and emerging countries greater voting power.
    Lagarde said the IMF is disappointed with the US inaction to ratify the governance and quota reforms and will now move forward without Washington.
    “The IMF’s membership has been calling on and was expecting the United States to approve the IMF’s 2010 Quota and Governance Reforms by year-end. Adoption of the reforms remains critical to strengthen the Fund’s credibility, legitimacy, and effectiveness, and to ensure it has sufficient permanent resources to meet its members’needs,” Lagarde said in a statement.
    “I have now been informed by the U.S. Administration that the reforms are not included in the budget legislation currently before the U.S. Congress. I have expressed my disappointment to the U.S authorities and hope that they continue to work toward speedy ratification,” she said.
    “As requested by our membership, we will now proceed to discuss alternative options for advancing quota and governance reforms and ensuring that the Fund has adequate resources, starting with an Executive Board meeting in January 2015,” she added.
    Earlier in September this year, in her opening address at the United Nations General Assembly, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff warned that international financial institutions are in danger of losing legitimacy if developing countries like BRICS are not given proper representation.
    “It is also imperative to eliminate the disparity between the growing importance of developing countries in the global economy and their insufficient representation and participation in the decision-making processes of international financial institutions, such as the Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The delay in the expansion of voting rights of developing countries in these institutions is unacceptable,” Rousseff said.
    “These institutions are in danger of losing legitimacy and efficiency,” she added.
    The IMF reforms will hand more IMF voting powers to BRICS, a long-standing demand of the group and will also reduce the concentration of representative power of Western Europe at the IMF board.
    Source: http://thebricspost.com/us-isolated-brics-to-get-greater-voting-power-at-imf/#.VI79RCvF9y1

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is Obama ready for an about-face to recognize Assad? Will Syria provide the strike force against ISIS?

    High expectations based on unconfirmed reports swirled around Arab capitals Sunday, Dec. 14, that US President Barack Obama, in league with Moscow and Tehran, had turned his longstanding anti-Assad policy on its head. He was said to be willing to accept Bashar Assad’s rule and deem the Syrian army the backbone of the coalition force battling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
    If these expectations are borne out by the Obama administration, the Middle East would face another strategic upheaval: The US and Russia would be on the same side, a step toward mending the fences between them after the profound rupture over Ukraine, and the Washington-Tehran rapprochement would be expanded.
    The Lebanese Hizballah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah would be vindicated in the key role they played in buttressing President Assad in power.
    But for Saudi Arabia and Israel, an Obama turnaround on Assad would be a smack in the face.
    The Saudis along with most of the Gulf emirates staked massive monetary and intelligence resources in the revolution to topple the Syrian ruler.
    Israel never went all-out in its support for the Syrian uprising, but focused on creating a military buffer zone under rebel rule in southern Syria, in order to keep the hostile Syrian army, Hizballah and elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps fighting for Assad at a distance from its northern borders with Syria and Lebanon.
    If Obama goes through with accepting the Assad regime, Israel will have to write off most of its military investment in Syria. In any case, Israel’s intelligence agencies misjudged the Syrian situation from the first; until a year ago, they kept on insisting that Assad’s days were numbered.

    Read more at: http://www.debka.com/article/24296/Is-Obama-ready-for-an-about-face-to-recognize-Assad-Will-Syria-provide-the-strike-force-against-ISIS-

    ReplyDelete

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