Strategic Security Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3247 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Strategic Security in the Middle East

"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary…" (Reinhold Niebuhr, et al., 2011).

Need for Perspective

The volatile Middle East region has weighed heavily on the minds of American strategic policymakers, diplomats, members of Congress, State Department and Defense Department strategists, occupants of the White House and others for many years and for good reasons. Following the terrorist attacks of 2011, new strategies were launched by the United States designed to fight a so-called "war on terror" but in the American homeland these strategies -- considered by some to be invasive of personal liberties -- were put in motion to protect citizens from another round of devastating terrorist attacks.

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Most recently the Middle Eastern Muslim world has exploded with citizen uprisings and revolution -- in Egypt, Libya, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Oman, and elsewhere. And while the fires of revolt and overthrow continue to burn white-hot in Libya and Egypt -- and Syrian troops are killing their own people in the streets to contain the demonstrations -- a constant flow of radical Islamic insurgents move daily into Afghanistan and Iraq to create more violence and chaos. It would seem to the objective observer that the billions of dollars spent and the thousands of lives lost by the U.S. In Iraq and Afghanistan have added up to a strategic wasteland. What should the position of the United States government be with reference to the recent Islamic revolts and to the ongoing tensions between the West and Islam? These questions cry out for responses that no knowledgeable person has yet attempted to coherently, objectively answer.

Term Paper on Strategic Security Assignment

Outside of a few short-term successes -- and the maintenance of security for American's one true friend in the region, Israel -- the United States has been on the defensive and seemingly on the wrong side of public opinion in the Middle East. It is the position of this paper that while no model developed in the West can predict or preclude violence or ease the political tensions between the Middle East and the U.S., embracing a more sensitive historical American perspective vis-a-vis the Middle East will go a long way towards more civil future relations between the U.S. And Islamic countries.

Thesis

Without a more thoughtful perspective on the part of both the U.S. And Middle Eastern nations of Muslim ethnicity, and the implementation of policies that embrace that perspective, more terrorism, tension, and toxic communication can be expected between the West and Middle Eastern Muslim nations. Peace must be pursued through thoughtful acts and holistic perspectives; and leadership is the only means of achieving that long-sought-after peace.

Model-Making Failure and Loss of Fear in the Middle East

The United States had little or no advanced clue as to much of the current uprisings in the Middle East. An article in The New Yorker (Steavenson, 2011, p. 1) reports that American military and intelligence professionals have spent a "…hundred and twenty-five million dollars' worth of algorithmic computer modeling" over the past three years in search of a reliable forecast for "global political unrest." Those multi-million dollar model-making schemes obviously failed to do what they were supposed to do. To wit, the computer modeling put the odds of a "copycat revolution in Egypt" (following the massive demonstrations that led to the downfall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia on January 14, 2011) at twenty percent, and no more.

"All of our models are bad, some are less bad than others," said Mark Abdollahian, a consultant hired by the U.S. To conduct research on "power transitions" (Steavenson, 1). Indeed the models could not have projected that following the "euphoria" of Egypt and Tunisia's street-scene revolutions that Muammer Qaddafi's defiant attacks on his own people would lead eventually to his defeat and disappearance. In short, no amount of money poured into modeling can accurately predict political events in the Middle East. That is now proven to be the case. And it can be safely assumed that no amount of money, materials, and manpower can force a democracy on countries like Iraq -- notwithstanding former Vice President Dick Cheney's recent assertion that "…we made the right decision" by invading Iraq (CNN.com).

The risks of continuing unrest -- repression in response to that unrest -- revolution and wildly unstable societies in the Middle East will not disappear any time soon, Steavenson asserts. That is because "…Arabs have lost their fear…. Not just the fear of violence, imprisonment, and death… they have also lost the fear of the insidious inculcation that they, as Arabs… are inherently ill suited to representative government" (Steavenson, p. 2).

The late political philosopher Hannah Arendt, whose seminal studies of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes remain as pivotal works in the literature, suggests that "few things" are more "frightening" than the kinds of computer modeling mentioned by Steavenson (Arendt, 1969, p. 6). She sees this kind of technologic approach flawed because what first appears as a "hypothesis… turns immediately, usually after a few paragraphs, into a 'fact,' with the result that the purely speculative character of the whole enterprise is forgotten" (7).

Although her book On Violence was published forty-two years ago, even then Arendt was arguing against "scientifically minded brain trusters" that are engaged in "hypothetical constructions of future events" (6). Instead of engaging in what Arendt calls "old-fashioned, un-computerized activity" in terms of projecting what might happen based on what has happened and current dynamics, the bureaucrats and policymakers "imitate the surface features of sciences" -- and that approach to strategic theory is fundamentally dangerous, Arendt explains.

The danger she alludes to lies within the belief that "we have an understanding of events and control over their flow which we do not have" (Arendt quoting Richard N. Goodwin, 7). Moreover, these "…pompous pseudo-scientific theories" are dangerous because they are "not only plausible" -- they take evidence from current events and trends -- but they have "a hypnotic effect" and "put to sleep our common sense" (Arendt, 8).

Jihad and Islam

What is the Islamic philosophy on violence? Is what Americans see on television and read in the newspapers an accurate accounting of Muslims, violence, and war? The concept of "the jihad as a permanent state of war against the non-Muslim world" was the operative attitude for years, but it nearly became obsolete in the modern era "…prior to the emergence of Qaddafi in Libya, Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, and various radical fundamentalist groups," according to Dougherty, et al. (2000, p. 187). Jihad as a concept was originally promoted by the prophet Muhammad, who explained to the faithful that jihad was "a sacred duty and a guarantee of salvation" after death (Dougherty, 187).

The concept of jihad is somewhat complicated, but according to Dougherty the Muslim world was divided into dar al-Islam (a peaceful abode of the "true believers and those who submitted to their tolerant rule") and the dar al-harb (the area of war) (187). Those two Muslim aspects were always "theoretically at war with each other because war was the ultimate device for incorporating recalcitrant peoples into the peaceful territory of Islam" (Dougherty, 187). And moreover, in the past, from the perspective of religious leaders, jihad was more of a crusade than a "just war" and it was in reference to the "spiritual struggle for perfection within the heart of individuals" more than any tactic to blow up innocent civilians (in particular, Westerners) (Dougherty, 187). Today, however, militants and terrorists have twisted the meaning of jihad into a campaign to kill as many Americans and other Westerners as possible.

Samuel Huntington -- Clash of Civilizations

If Samuel Huntington is to be believed, it won't take a million-dollar computer model-maker to figure out that there will be violence in the future between Muslim nations and other cultures. On page 256 Huntington of his controversial book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, mentions conflicts between Muslims and "Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Hindu, Chinese, Buddhist [and] Jewish" civilizations -- and "most of these relations have been "violent at some point…" (Huntington, 1996, 256). The fact is that Muslims have "problems living peaceably with their neighbors," the author insists, and that includes, in some cases, having problems living peaceably with neighbors that are also Muslim.

The data Huntington presents is damning, but for Americans seeking perspective on the Middle East and on Islam's future in terms of international relations, and for those hoping for detente between the West and Islam at some point in the future, it is necessary to come to terms with the author's recounting of violent Muslim realities. For example, Huntington points out that of the fifty "ethnopolitical conflicts in 1993-1994," Muslims were participants in twenty-six, just over half, of that violence (256). Taking that data to another level, Huntington asserts that within the context of those fifty conflicts, there were "…three times as many intercivilizational conflicts involving Muslims as there were conflicts between… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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