Americans, Arabs, Iranians, and Randy Newman
No one likes us, don’t know why.
We may not be perfect, but Heaven knows we try.
But all around, even our old friends put us down.
Let’s drop the Big One, and see what happens.
We give them money, but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful.
They don’t respect us; so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the Big One and pulverize ‘em.
Randy Newman, “Political Science”
“Political Science” was a satirical song sung by Randy Newman in the 1970’s about America’s foreign policy, which has always taken a bit of anti-foreigner flavor… perhaps the world would be better if we’d just annihilate various things. Like all good satire, it had a kernel of truth to it, but it wasn’t necessary to “Drop the Big One.” It turns out that America just had to stop trying so hard.
The Saudi Ambassador paid a visit to “Meet the Press” last weekend to talk about the Iranian nuclear discussion, ISIS, the Sunni Triangle in Iraq, and the growing problems in Yemen. The Arab world is preparing to take on the Yemen problem themselves, which is a bit miraculous in my humble opinion. The Arab League is even assembling a joint military capability.
The Sunni Arabs, faced with an America willing to talk to Iran and not so willing to commit her young to the whims of roadside explosives enthusiasts, suddenly are all about making nice with the US of A, and being part of the solution and whatnot. It turns out that we didn’t need to drop the proverbial Big One, we just had to stand still and do nothing. Turning off the Pax Americana due to non-cooperation has become the new “Big One.“
Could 50,000 Sunni Arab soldiers have made a difference in the Coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003? Would the Sunni Triangle have been a quieter place had it been supervised by fellow Sunni Arabs? Could Sunni Arabs have helped see the people of al-Anbar through a difficult time as kith and kin and reduced the overall violence? Could it have saved American lives by including people the locals could identify with in the coalition trying to restore civil order?
There is no way to know; Saudi Arabia refused passage of American troops over its territory, and then sat there and watched American soldiers get murdered by roadside bombs. This is the same Saudi Arabia that funded the Wahabbist schools that served as the petri dishes for the cultivation of the bacteria called the Taliban, mind you, in cooperation with Pakistan. The same Pakistan that brazenly betrayed us.
Yemen is up to the Arab states to sort out. The last thing the US wants is to be involved in another sectarian war. ISIS is their problem, too. We tried to sort out Iraq for the best; we got little cooperation and quite a lot of foreign condemnation. Someone else handle it this time.
It turns out that letting the Middle East burn a little really isn’t so bad from the American standpoint. The US Navy has ample power to keep sea lanes open, so as long as the land conflicts don’t interrupt the actual pumping of oil, the prices won’t see a spike. In fact, it turns out that countries dependent on hydrocarbons for expendable cash will increase their production to buy weapons and such, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.
The United States is not the global police force. We are a large, powerful country with interests that span the globe. We wish to have friendship and peace with all nations and peoples, but we aren’t going to suspend our own national interests to fight wars on behalf of somebody else, especially for regimes that act to undermine us while simultaneously preaching cooperation.
This wishy-washy policy throughout the Arab states was enabled (at least in part) by American policy towards Iran; as long as the Persian boogie men were behind the curtains, the US would endure quite a lot of non-cooperation from the Arab states. Now that American policy towards Iran is changing, the Arab states find themselves on shaky ground. They might even have to take America seriously in the future…
The song ends with the line, “They all hate us anyhow, so let’s drop the Big One now.” Since 2003, the United States has been on the receiving end of a large stream of anti-American sentiment from around the world. Even our old friends put us down! So, somebody else deal with the strife and the bull-headed political provincialism that seems to swamp the Middle East from time to time.
I say America should sit on the decks of her aircraft carriers and watch the fires rise high. If you look carefully you can see opportunity through the chaos; the US could openly declare that it will do nothing about Iran until the Arabs make peace with Israel, and that Israel will have to offer a ‘67 Line state to the Palestinians, a Palestine which will have to be made nice and pliant by the Arab League, as per America’s declarations and understandings on the topic. Making Peace Like a Boss.
Or, the powers in the Middle East can deal with it all themselves and leave us alone. Whichever. They all hate us anyhow, so we might as well skip the effort and stop wasting our time… one voter’s opinion.