Monday, October 20, 2014

America, China and the Islamic State

Shanghai Institutes for International Studies

By Dan Steinbock

Washington has launched still another “war against terror” in the Middle East and beyond. It is the kind of escalation that the Islamic State has hoped. In contrast, Beijing is likely to stick to cautious engagement.

Half a month after offering the American people his rationale for taking the United States into a new Middle East war to combat the Islamic State (IS), President Obama issued a call to the world to join America in the fight against violent religious extremism. Taking the moral high ground, President Obama told the UN General Assembly that “there can be no reasoning, no negotiations with this brand of evil.”

Undoubtedly, the IS represents the kind of brutality that is new even in the most violent war-torn enclaves of the Middle East.

But as the critics see it, the rise of the Islamic State is the result of President Bush’s war on terror and military actions, while its further radicalization is the effect of President Obama’s efforts to overcome the Middle East’s divides with raw military power, but without ground troops – and a political solution.

Huge investment, barbaric returns

A decade ago, neoconservatives in Washington envisioned a new democratic Middle East, including a stable, prosperous Iraq that would be united and peaceful. And they walked the talk. Between 2003 and 2012, U.S. aid to Iraq totaled more than $57 billion. During the same period, war costs in Iraq soared to $3.5 trillion (Joint Economic Committee of Congress). That’s more than 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.