U.S. Must Maintain Presence in Middle East


We are seeing a buildup of troops in the Middle East. Yes, a buildup, not a reduction. The buildup is occurring to keep a presence in the region, following our exit of Iraq.

President Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqis that on December 31, 2011, all US troops would leave Iraq. President Obama fought to extend the deadline, but failed. And, just like he should have, the president put a positive spin on the withdrawal that he was fulfilling a campaign promise.

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President Obama had no choice. I have been to Iraq many times; I have always felt that once we left there would be sectarian conflict. This sectarian conflict is what our administration fears and what will likely happen.

The arbitrary drawing up of boundaries after World War I by the Allied Powers guaranteed conflict by ignoring natural boundaries. The concern now is the Iraq becomes a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and I believe it will. The attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador in New York by a group funded by the Iranians is evidence of the problems. A “Sunni” bomb is how the Saudis refer to the Iranian nuclear bomb; they hate it as much as Israel does.

The buildup I referred to that has been announced is in the Persian Gulf States that are friendly to us -- the six nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council. Here is where our opportunity lies.

Qatar hosts our Central Command and it also hosts and funds Al Jazeera television. Qatar sits on the world’s largest natural gas find, which it shares with Iran. Qatar could not defend itself against many of its neighbors. Hence the invitation to host Central Command and an olive branch to the Arab world of hosting Al Jazeera Television. A brilliant move by Qatar, since no country will invade the host of our Central Command.

We have had a combat battalion and at times a full combat brigade in Kuwait since the first Gulf War ended. We now plan to put more full-time troops in the region (we currently have 23,000 stationed in Kuwait).

I have advocated this for some time;  place our soldiers in a friendly country where they can sleep at peace at night and only be an hour to a few hours from responding to a crisis in the region.

I think we should open this up to the highest bidder and let them pay for us being there.

When Vernon Hill started expanding Commerce Bank he gave ATM fees back to customers who used other banks’ ATMs. Mr. Hill understood that he didn’t have to build out the ATM system; he could use someone else’s system and rent that system by reimbursing fees.

The Gulf States don’t have to build an army; they can rent the best in the world by paying the US to base in their country. The US would get a base in a peaceful country, and a country without means to defend itself could host the US Army for less than what it would take to build its own, saving both countries billions of dollars.

I see this as a win-win in the Gulf for someone. We claimed that Iraqi oil would pay for reconstruction, that didn’t work out. It is in our interest to keep the region, and the oil wells in Iraq, out of the hands of the Iranians.

If we are to be the world’s police can we at least ask the world to pay for it?

What do you think?

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