I was thinking we could use an open ended thread to discuss the various aspects of the Middle East situation.
This editorial was in last Sundayís edition of my local paper.
Iraq exit strategy's only halfway there
Originally Posted by Thomas Friedman
I'm glad Democrats are keeping the pressure on President Bush for a withdrawal date from Iraq. It's the only way to keep him and Iraqis focused on the endgame. But if Democrats really want to be taken seriously on foreign affairs, they need to recognize that they have only half a policy on Iraq. And it's the easy half.
You can't be in favor of setting a date to withdraw from Iraq without also being in favor of a serious energy policy to radically reduce our dependence on oil -- now. To call for withdrawing from Iraq by a set date, no matter what the situation is on the ground there -- without a serious energy plan here -- is reckless. All we would be doing is making ourselves more dependent on an even more unstable Middle East, because any U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is likely, in the short run, to be destabilizing.
The Middle East today is deeply troubled. If we determine that our efforts to tilt that region in a different direction -- by building a decent Iraq -- have failed, then our efforts to minimize our exposure to that region have to begin. But the last thing we can afford to do is walk away from the Middle East militarily while remaining chained to it economically.
More important, if Iraq totally fails, but we still believe it is in our interest to promote reform in the Middle East, a serious U.S. energy policy that permanently brings down the price of oil -- by developing scalable alternative energies -- is actually the best Plan B there is. You will see reform in the Arab-Muslim world only when regimes there can't survive just by extracting oil, but have to extract the talents of their people by educating, empowering and connecting them.