Violence in the Middle East, Mostly Unseen in the Middle West
The ongoing election in the United states has mostly pushed the violence in Syria off of our front pages, but it’s still there. An article in the FP points out that considerably more people are dying right now in Syria than at the very height of the Iraq conflict in 2006. Given that it is 2/3 the size, it is a substantially higher-intensity conflict. I’ve written a number of times about the potential for this conflict to spiral out of control via the involvement of any combination of Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran or Iraq. It looks unlikely that the United States would get involved right now, but that could change in an instant.
It’s a reminder that a lot of the course of world events is determined by things completely unknowable. It’s entirely possible that the Syria issue could suddenly and shockingly emerge as a major foreign policy issue in the United States election. How that would play, I have no clue. It’s certainly not clear how it would affect the race, especially if circumstances required President Obama to play the hawkish role.
Depending on your point of view, the violence in Syria can “prove” a number of things. One is that the United States should have always been more aggressive in pushing democracy in Middle Eastern autocracies that have proven to be less-stable-than-they-looked powder kegs. Another is that the United States should seek disentanglement with that whole volatile region. It certainly proves that the short attention span of the media means that the headlines on any given day do not necessarily reflect the most important issues of that day.