Wilmot Robertson on the Middle East
A denationalized foreign policy has many heads and hearts, but no soul. It supports imperialism in one part of the world and opposes it in another. It upholds human rights in some areas; in others it honors and rewards the violators of these rights. It gives money and arms to anti-American governments, but boycotts pro-American governments. It was against the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, but tolerated it in Cuba, from whose airfields Russian bombers could be over Florida in fifteen minutes. It was against dealing with terrorists, but it sent arms to Iran.
Not only America but most of the world has lived to regret the day the Majority lost control of American foreign policy. There is nothing more dangerous in international relations than misdirected energy, nothing more tragic than a great nation that expends its greatness blindly. Until the special interests of the minorities and the special enthusiasms of liberals are again made subservient to the national interest, America’s diplomatic incoherence will continue to be one of the great destabilizing forces in the world social order. Vacillating statecraft encourages enemies to take risks and friends to be distrustful. A foreign policy directed by lobbies instead of statesmen is worse than no foreign policy at all.
However, being right about a generality or a trend is not nearly as impressive as foreseeing particulars of future conflicts. In revisiting Mr. Robertson’s chapter “The United States and the Middle East,” the power of his mind really shines. Written decades ago, the contours and pitfalls he describes of the area, and our relation to it, are spot on today. As our covert war in Yemen heats up and our coming president seems hellbent on raising the stakes in Syria, let’s remember a few words of wisdom:
- “From the birth of Israel up to the events in Lebanon in 1982, Zionist propaganda has so permeated and dominated American thought that, whenever the discussion has turned to the Middle East, leaders in nearly every walk of public life abandon all reason and judgement, not to mention their intellectual integrity. The same educators who insist on the desegregation of American schools have solidly supported Israel, which has segregated schools for its Arab minority. The same churchmen and laymen who preach the separation of church and state, the equality of the sexes, and opposition to any racial or religious tests for marriage have stood four-square for Israel, where church and state are one, where interfaith marriages are forbidden, and where women who worship in Orthodox synagogues are segregated behind screened-off galleries.”
- “The policy [Israel first] which has already cost America the friendship of most of the Arab world and the respect of the Moslem world may also carry a much higher price. IT was pointed out earlier that the liberal-minority coalition will only lend its full support to a war in behalf of liberal goals and minority interests. As these two necessary requirements are now present in the Middle East, American intervention is not only possible but probable.”
- “Camp David cannot possibly achieve its lofty goals because Israel will never accept a truly autonomous Palestinian state on its borders, and the Palestinian leadership, no matter what it promises, will never give up its hope of driving the hated oppressor in the sea. Meanwhile, America entered an undeclared war against Middle Eastern guerrillas.” (Note that he is here commenting on President Carter’s failed Camp David Accords, but may as well have been commenting on President Clinton’s failed 2000 Camp David Summit.)
- “What has happened in the Middle East since the end of World War II offers a valuable object lesson on the nature and extent of minority power in the United States. The national interest required the safeguarding of the oil fields, the encouragement of areawide political stability to restrain Russian military and economic penetration, and the presence of friendly, pro-American, anti-Communist governments. But all this has been given up for the sake of a numerically inconsequential American minority.”
- “The sheik in your pocket today may be the imam who declares war on you tomorrow. In the short term America may have to keep the sea lanes open for the oil, which Americans and Britons, not Allah or the faithful, discovered, drilled, pumped out of the desert sand, refined, distributed — and once upon a time, owned. But in the long term the United States must go nuclear and go beyond nuclear if it wants to work itself free of present and future oil cartels. Everyone understands that the mountains of currency flowing into Middle Eastern coffers are economically disrupting to the West. But few understand that these torrents of cash are culturally corrupting to the sellers.”
- “It was in the Middle East that man is supposed to have invented civilization. It is in the Middle East that warring Jews, Arabs, Iranians, or oil-thirsty outsiders may provoke nuclear confrontation which could bring much of civilization to an untimely end.”