Ehrlich is wrong on U.S. policy in the Middle East

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s recent column ("The Obama doctrine: Passivity where leadership is needed," Oct. 14) continues to present a flawed ideological position on the Middle East when a heterodox view is in order. We entered the Middle East and North Africa for only one reason: oil. We lost the oil reserves by 1980. Over the last 40 years every administration and Congress has careened from one costly political and military debacle to another in Gaza, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The continued politically correct mantra about our problems being caused by a small faction of Islamist terrorists is disingenuous at best. From moderate believers to radical fundamentalists Muslims abhor our promiscuity, women's equality, mixing of the sexes, homosexuality, drugs and alcohol. But most damning is democracy, which allows us to believe in God or not to believe and if we do to allow us to individually determine our relationship with Him. Attempts to impose Western values onto Islam are merely inflaming the situation.


The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood was organized in 1928 and spawned a worldwide collection of Islamic organizations that turned their wrath onto the U.S. and are determined to remove us from Muslim land. In 1983 during the Lebanese civil war, an Islamic Jihad suicide attack killed 241 peace keepers in the American marine barracks in the deadliest single attack on U.S. military since World War II. Also in the 1980s Iran's client Hizballah kidnapped, tortured and murdered U.S. citizens in Lebanon

We fostered regime change in Libya and Egypt that gave the Muslim Brotherhood control in Egypt and a gaggle of Islamic militias in Libya. We are supporting rebels in Syria with a high probability that an Islamic fundamentalist organization will replace Bashar Assad.


We forced elections in Lebanon and Palestine which gave Hizballah control in Lebanon and Hamas the Gaza strip.

A 25-year experiment with westernization in Iran by the Shah's White Revolution was backed by the U.S. with weapons and thousands of military advisors. In 1979 the Shah was overthrown by Ayatollah Khomeini who labeled us the Great Satan. When Khomeini died Muhammad Khatami was elected as reformist president of Iran. He approached the United States with proposals to negotiate all outstanding issues including the nuclear issue. He was rebuffed, and Iran was inexplicitly added to the Axis of Evil. As a result conservatives regained power and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president.

During the 1980s we supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, and then our ambassador famously advised Saddam that his dispute with Kuwait was a local issue and did not concern the U.S. This translated into approval to attack, and the result was the 1991 Gulf War.

In 2002 on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction we attacked Iraq. An estimated 100,000 Iraqi citizens were killed; about 2 million fled as refugees. With 4,000 US dead; 30,000 maimed; and a loss of $1 trillion in treasure to replace a Sunni tyrant with a parliament dominated by the party of Muqtada al Sadr, a firebrand Shia cleric who hates the U.S; has strong ties to Iran; and fought us with his Madhi militia; our efforts ended in a total failure.

We supported the mujahedin against the Russians in Afghanistan. When the Soviets left, so did we; this provided the political vacuum that allowed the Taliban to rise to power. Al-Qaeda set up operations as guests of the Taliban and planned the 9/11 attack from Afghanistan. Quran burnings plus the massacre of civilians in Afghanistan caused a violent outburst of hatred against the U.S. When we leave the Taliban will return to power.

Pakistan provided sanctuary for Osama bin Laden for several years; the Pakistani people despise us for our drone attacks killing innocents; and segments of the ISI and Pakistan military support the Taliban. Saudi Wahhabites provide funds for madrassas in the border region which teach hatred for the U.S. and provide thousands of Taliban recruits every year.

We brilliantly destroyed the Taliban government in Afghanistan using the Northern Alliance and Special Forces. A 10 year intelligence operation ended in the brilliant elimination of Osama bin Laden by our Special Forces. We have had no attacks on U.S. soil except by home grown Islamists and the use of Special Forces to disrupt and destroy foreign terrorists has been extremely successful. The U.S. is teetering on the edge of fiscal collapse in part due to the wasted treasure in our failed Middle East wars. Mitt Romney would be no more successful than Presidents Bush and Obama have been in forcing Western values onto Islam. Rather than segue into another costly winless war with Iran we need to pack up our kit and leave the region but continue to destroy our foreign enemies by stealth. Removing our massive presence is long overdue.

Charles Campbell, Woodstock