But still there is growing thanklessness in the world, particularly against the Americans. Whether it is Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria in future, the people would not thank Americans for spending even trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and loosing thousands of men in uniform! Sure, the Pentagon is pursuing its agenda but the fact is so much money was spent on other nations and so many American lives were sacrificed and it could have helped them too.
The protests which were initially confined to Egypt and Libya have spread all over the Islamic world. The countries include Sudan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iraq, Gaza Strip, Morocco, Syria, Kuwait, Nigeria and Kenya.
This could make the US administration to reanalyze its support to pro-change groups all over the Islamic world. Would the changes substantiate the radicalism giving way to al-Qaeda-Taliban version of Islam in Sunnis’ dominated and their supported countries and Hezbollah induced thinking in Shias’ dominated and their supported countries? What will happen to the non-Western countries which have significant numbers of minority Muslim population? Would these anti-US protests change the geo-political equations?
The fact is that there is no option other than change in regime wherever there is despotism and wherever majorities are suppressed, whatever be its cost inside and to the outside world. Only Saudi Arabia should be the possible exception to any kind of reforms. Only the change in administration in the White House can lead to freezing but not end of the protests and uprising. Sure, the uprisings against their own states could be quelled but they could lead to second revolution in distant future, more so, if Republicans win more White House races in future than Democrats.
The fact is that these anti-US protests would change the US policy in Syria and Afghanistan. If Romney wins the elections then the Afghanistan withdrawal could be delayed fearing the rise of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Though the American troops can distance themselves from direct combat operation role and look for an airbase inside Afghanistan. The Afghanistan could once again become the hub of al-Qaeda-Taliban combine operatives once the Americans leave and globally Islamic radicalism may increase. In order to stop it the Pentagon needs to rethink its obligations in Afghanistan.
Moreover, if al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives increase their numbers in Free Syrian Army, then Romney, if he gets elected, may prolong the departure of Assad or at least make his exit from Syria more honorable. But then Romney would like to secure chemical and biological weapons from Syria and would like to see reduction of Russian influence not only in Syria but elsewhere in the region. If Obama wins the race he would continue his policy of patience and believing in the universality of triumph of democracy and liberalism.
It should be noted that attempts to give proportionate representation to minorities in Syria and writing a future secular constitution both would fail whichever American side tries it. Sunnis should be expected to spare lives of minorities, particularly Alawite and Christians, but they can not be expected to be secular in nature and functioning. If the US helps the rebel oust Assad then it can protect Christians, but not all minorities.
But suppose Romney is President and it is fool proof case that al-Qaeda, Taliban and Hezbollah are increasing their influence in the region, harming American interests, killing Americans and others and damaging America’s friends and allies, then he will have no option but to take actions against these outfits. America would be again at war though Romney would like to copy Reagan and not Bush 43. Such operations would be very quick—‘Smartbites’ and the US would use air power more significantly though there can be boots on grounds. Such would be petty and exhausting wars for the Pentagon though fighting them will be its duty. To be honest not all blame can be transferred to al-Qaeda, Taliban and Hezbollah as local outfits also matter a lot and the US authorities should be careful about labels.
But the thing that both Romney and Obama need to understand is that promoting consumerism in Middle East not only helps America’s cause in the region but it can also help Islamism becoming lesser violent. Better off people and elites would protest the rise of radicalization if they become individualistic and consumerists to the extent possible. There is only one way left for the US to bring significant changes in the non-Western world and that is through products, services and capital. The days of using ideology like vouching for freedom, democracy, human rights and capitalism are over though the days of using highly radicalized ideologies to incite people are in vogue, thanks to the social websites and other means of communications.
The world as a whole has become more thankless. The US should weigh all its options before formulating a policy; either of containment or of aggression. But equally the fact is that US does not have any other option but to invest in ending conflicts and resolving disputes all around the world as its prosperity depends on the peace and stability in the globe.
The fact is that the US would have to adjust for a new normal in international relations; that it would get short-to-middle term returns for its investment but neither thankfulness nor long term returns. The age and time has probably truncated for Americans till they are able to deploy a reliable missile defense and invent an alternate to fossil fuel.