While you were watching Egypt, the rest of the world wasn’t sitting still.
1. We pointed out in 2009 that a Turkish delegation including the foreign minister went to Syria and signed a “strategic cooperation” agreement that included plans for joint military exercises. In December 2010, Turkey’s deputy chief of staff went to Damascus to discuss Turkish military training for the Syrian army. The announcement has now been made that Turkey will indeed be training Syrian troops. A NATO country will train the army of a country that is Israel’s enemy, Lebanon’s enemy, Hezbollah’s back door and the bane of the Iraqi government and the American troops there, and a U.S. Government-designated state sponsor of terrorism – which should make it America’s adversary. Instead of showing concern, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise docked in the Turkish resort town of Marmaris where its 5,800 personnel will be visiting the covered bazaar in groups over the next four days.
How much information about American arms and NATO tactics will be transferred to Iran, a friend of Turkey and a patron of Syria?
2. How much information about the British nuclear arsenal was transferred to Russia by the Obama administration?
Although the START Treaty has elements that could undermine America’s defense capability, at least our Congress ratified our position. But the Administration also paid for Russia’s signature in currency it didn’t own. First, the U.S. Government reneged on the deal to put American missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic after both allies had used their political capital to have the plan ratified in their parliaments. At the same time, according to WikiLeaks and The Telegraph (UK), the Administration lobbied the British government for permission to tell Moscow about the number, age and performance capabilities of Trident missiles the British received from us. The Russians had long sought that information. When the British refused, the Administration turned it over anyhow.
3. Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan all receive American arms, money and training in pursuit of what the United States believes are joint interests in the region. They have varying levels of discontent at home that leads to the possibility of distancing from the United States. [Yesterday, in Pakistan, a teenage bomber wearing a school uniform passed through at least six checkpoints and then killed more than 30 soldiers.] What will it take to keep them in our orbit if, in fact, we can keep them at all? What happens if they go?
4. Serial car bomb explosions in Kirkuk, Iraq killed at least 11 people and injured more than 100 others, including two policemen, on Wednesday. First, a suicide-bomber slammed his explosives-laden truck into the headquarters of Kurdish intelligence. Almost simultaneously, a car exploded targeting a police patrol. A third similar explosion was followed by gunshots. Violence in Iraq is vastly diminished, but a recent rash of bombings in the Kurdish area along with attacks against Iraq’s Christian community are reminders that as the United States removes combat troops from Iraq, there are still important ways our government must remain diplomatically engaged with Iraqis to continue the still-tentative process of reconciliation.
Too many Americans and too many Iraqis died to permit the emergence of a country with a consensual government for us simply to move on to our next adventure, leaving unfinished business behind.
These problems, as much as making demands of Israel on behalf of the Palestinians and making demands of the Egyptian government – on behalf of whom, the Muslim Brotherhood? – should be the priorities of the government of the United States. Historically, our country has been able to manage multiple problems on multiple fronts.
Can we still?