US searching for new Strategic Ellipse approachOctober 31, 2011
The long time American military commitment to the Persian Gulf region will not end when US forces leave Iraq at the end of 2011. There is already word that the Pentagon and Obama Administration are preparing to beef up the American military presence in the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This is almost farcical. One of the major issues put forth by Osama bin Laden in his original fatwa against the US was the presence of “infidel” military forces in Saudi Arabia, home of Islams two most holy cities. One of the great benefits of the Iraq war was that, by removing Saddam Hussein’s perpetual threat to the Gulf oil fields, it allowed the US to remove its forces from Saudi Arabia, and in so doing to remove a driving force for jihad against America. Now, due to what seems like blind disregard, the US will be forced to redeploy military forces to the Land of the Two Mosques. What was one of the few clear benefits of the Iraq War is being tossed away. This just sets us up for another generation of radicals with a clear grievance against the US to emerge . . . we are right back where we started.
In the other theater of the rapidly ending War on Terror, the State Department has launched the “New Silk Road” initiative to fill the gap as the US military mission to Afghanistan winds down. On paper, this seems like a good idea, but Americans have had a number of good ideas on paper. The Bug Pit points out that most people in the region believe this effort will prove to be “unfeasible . . . and so not worth worrying too much about.” And, if it does turn out to be feasible, it does not appear from published statements that State has not game planned for what would be a robust Russian response.
I think a New Silk Road is a promising strategy, but it has to have real support. It would help if there was a general foreign policy consensus in the US that bridged various administrations, as containment of the Soviet Union did for so long. I humbly submit that an awareness of Long Cycle Theory in general and EnerGeoPolitcs in particular might go a long way toward creating that consensus. We are nearing the endpoint of the current phase, probably within 20-30 years, and the coalitioning ahead of that macrodecision is occurring now, whether we actively acknowledge it or not.