View Full Version : The Middle East Crisis: Six "Long Wars" and Counting

08-10-2006, 12:20 PM
4 August Center for Strategic and International Studies report - The Middle East Crisis: Six "Long Wars" and Counting (http://www.csis.org/component/option,com_csis_pubs/task,view/id,3423/type,1/) by Anthony Cordesman.

The Middle East is never a peaceful place, but even by regional standards, the US faces major problems in virtually every area. Even if one ignores the problems raised by enduring issues like energy, development, demographics, and normal politics and diplomacy, the US and its allies are now directly or indirectly involved in six “long wars:”

The war in Iraq
The struggle with Iranian proliferation and “adventures”
The War in Afghanistan and the Problem of Pakistan
The Israeli-Palestinian struggle
The Israeli-Lebanese struggle
The broader war on terrorism

It is easy lose sight of one or more of these conflicts under the pressure of dealing with the others. It is equally easy to lose sight of the connections between them and the fact they really are “long wars.” Almost regardless of the level of violence involved, all of these conflicts now promise to involve religious, ideological, political, and perceptual struggles that will play out over at least a decade.

The most the US can hope to accomplish is to limit the scale of risk and intervention, contain the worst violence and risks, and put a given struggle on a path to progress that time can eventually turn into real conflict resolution. The US can lose quickly in some cases, but it cannot win quickly in any. Moreover, there are no conflicts where it can act unilaterally. In every case, success depends on international and local partners.

The irony is that there was never a time when the US needed bipartisan realism and allies more than today. The reality, however, is growing and largely opportunistic partisanship, uncertain realism at best, and an ongoing compulsion to transform or pressure allies rather than treat them as partners. This is made worse by the fact that Arab-Israeli conflicts always polarize US politics and strategic thinking, and the Administration and Congress are now looking at two elections rather than one: Congress in November 2006 and the Presidency in 2008. Truth may be the first casualty of war, but it is the national interest that is the first casualty of domestic politics...