Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gulf Security Conference

Parag Khanna

What America could meaningfully do in the Middle East, with its unique diplomatic convening power, is to support the creation of a genuine regional security order, one that outlasts America’s commitments in the region (which should decrease commensurate with the ebbing of its reliance on Mideast energy supply) and remains robust in the face of Chinese encroachment. This would require bringing Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel into the same institutional fold.

This proposal, known presently as the “Gulf Security Conference”, has been widely discussed in inter-governmental fora such as the IISS Manama Dialogue. It has never been taken seriously by U.S. officials, however, on the grounds that neither Israel nor the Arabs trust Iran. But the time for these neighbors to pretend they inhabit different continents has passed. “Balancing” Iran has been code for attempting to freeze time, yet it has merely meant wasting it—decades of it. No state should rely permanently on America as a crutch, nor should America endlessly drain its treasury in the name of an offshore balancing policy that incentivizes belligerence. Geography is still destiny. These four regional anchors should be urged to encourage organic bridges to form across the region [..] But they won’t do it without American prodding.

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This is a good idea.