The coming presidential election is crucial not only for Americans but for the rest of the world as well.
Almost unnoticed amid the noise of the campaign, a world away, the “Arab Spring” has devolved into a potentially dangerous confrontation between middle-aged superpowers.
The stage is the Middle East, which has been transformed by the so-called Arab Spring. Described in the U.S. media as the flowering of democracy in Islamic countries, it’s actually a series of rebellions largely led by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, with the encouragement and sometimes financial support of the Obama Administration, without approval of Congress.
The current scene is Syria, which has been engaged in quashing a rebellion against its tyrannical leadership. Its military has been fighting its own people, but the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated rebels are not just home-grown, receiving support from Saudi Arabia and, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House.
Entering from stage left is the Russian Federation, heir to the Soviet Union’s military, technology and ambitions. Russia sees Syria as an ally in the region and counterweight to U.S. influence.
Entering from stage right is NATO, goaded by the U.S., and ready to jump in with Turkey, which borders Syria, given the right provocation.
Behind the scenes is the wildcard Iran, nursing its own nuclear ambitions amid growing foreign pressure. It is a traditional ally with Syria, and together they share the hope of bringing about the downfall of Israel, and one day, the West. Although this seems like the same goals held by the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran is predominantly Shia Muslim, while the Brotherhood is Sunni, a fact which so far has kept them at odds or at least arm’s length.
Turkey, a NATO member, has recently been provoking Syria — and vice versa — along its border. When a Turkish spy plane was shot down by Syria last month, Turkish and NATO leaders condemned the action. The United States has promised to support Turkey.
NATO, at this writing, is conducting military exercises in the region.
Meanwhile, Russia on July 10 announced that it was sending a flotilla of warships to the region to conduct their own military exercises and support the Assad regime in Syria.
In the Persian Gulf, off Iran’s shores, the United States is increasing its military presence in case Iran follows through on threats to attack oil tanker ships. In addition to two aircraft carriers, a squadron of Air Force F-22 fighters and two Army brigades based in Kuwait, the regional force is bulking up with robotic underwater drones.
As was obvious at the recent G20 Summit in the behavior of President Obama and Putin, relations between the U.S. and Russia have hit a wall, probably because of Obama’s ham-handed efforts to remake the Middle East while hanging in the background. Obama’s involvement in the changes that have roiled the region are obvious to even the casual observer. You can bet Putin knows times, places and dollar amounts.
So now our aspiring monarch is leading us by his diplomatic bumbling into a Middle East powder keg showdown with Russia that could potentially make the Bay of Pigs look like a Sunday romp in the park.
Obama won’t be able to blame President Bush for this one.