I was going to let you have the last word but I have a few comments in response to what you wrote.
First, I definitely think you’re overplaying the “US retreat” and “ME falling into ruin” angles, and your correlations between the two are definitely dubious.
The truth is, the US hasn’t been in retreat in the Middle East since winning the second world war in the mid-1940’s.The Persian Gulf waters through which around 20% of the world’s oil flows do not secure themselves, and the US already I think has significant military facilities in countries like Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Oman.
To the extent that the US has retreated at all, it “retreated” from Saudi Arabia after Gulf War I, but even then it only moved a few miles across the border into a neighboring Gulf country.
I think the Gulf is in a good place developmentally, and the stability provided by the US military really helped in that regard, and should be properly credited. However, the flea in the ointment is that the Gulf is still politically retarded. This is a sensitive subject and I won’t pretend to be an expert on it so I’ll refrain from commenting further, other than to note that it’s a large, regional problem.
To the extent that I am tolerant of Israel, it’s because frankly I’m fed up of the violence and am searching for another way. I was born in the late 1970’s during the Lebanese Civil War. I dealt with that but even at a young age was also exposed to the Iraq/Iran War (1980-1988), the First Palestinian Intifada (1988?), and Gulf War I (1990/1991).
As I approached high school graduation, I applied to “read” (the British word for “study”) medicine at Trinity College in Cambridge University in the UK, and was actually invited for an interview. I found myself in front of a bunch of British professors who grilled me on subjects like [European] music, art and literature. Needless to say, I bombed that interview big-time.
I wanted to scream at my interviewers, “HELLO! I come from the Middle East! You want me to know anything about ART?”
Perhaps fortuitously, I was rejected and found myself in America, which turned out OK. I came to the US in 1996 and have been here ever since. Thankfully, I missed the regional Middle East drama of the second Palestinian Intifada (2000?), 2003’s Gulf War II and the horribleness that occurred in Iraq over the next several years.
I actually took a sabbatical year in 2006 and spent it back in the Arab World, where I got to experience the July War between Hezbollah and Israel from a relatively close angle. It was horrible and so depressing. I didn’t like anything I saw in the region that year, and so by early 2007, I came running back to the US, and I’ve been here ever since.
This proved prescient on my part since I basically didn’t have to live through the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2009, the Arab Spring of 2011, and all the dreadfulness that has occurred in the region since then, ESPECIALLY in Syria and its neighboring environment.
On the subject of Israel, I have made my peace with it completely. I recognize that Israel’s formation and security have been traumatic for the region, especially for the Palestinians and the Lebanese. I have hopes that the Lebanese will no longer have to suffer due to being so close to Israel, and also that the Syrians eventually won’t have to either. The Jordanians and Egyptians seem pretty okay with Israel, so that rounds everybody out. I recognize that there is a huge issue with the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, and frankly I am not sure what a suitable outcome is there. I am definitely not in favor of a return of Palestinian refugees into these territories, since those territories are already very stressed as they are. I also realize that there’s absolutely no hope of those refugees ever returning to Israel or of Israel ever being militarily “liberated” and reverting to its pre-1948 Arab identity.
I sympathize with the conservative Israeli argument that there is not enough room for two states between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. For example, when I learned that the Palestinians rejected a capital in Ramallah but instead demanded one in East Jerusalem, I looked up the distance between Ramallah and East Jerusalem, and discovered that it was 8 miles! 8 FRICKING MILES! Honestly, that’s when I kinda lost interest in the two-state solution. I don’t think it will ever happen, for the simple reason that it doesn’t benefit either the Israelis or the Palestinians.
On the subject of the Jews, I reject anti-semitism completely, and also reject the narrative that Jewish Israelis are “foreign settlers”. The way I see it is there are around 6 million Jews in “greater” Israel, and at least 1 million are native to the Middle East (Moroccans, Yemenis, Ethiopians, Iraqis, etc.) and can’t be described as “foreigners” at all.
Even if one wants to bait the remaining 5 million as foreign settlers, I think the accounts are pretty well settled by realizing that these guys came from the West, and it’s probably fair to reason that for every one Western Jew who ended up in the Middle East, at least 10 Middle Easterners have relocated to the West. So all in all, I don’t see a problem with these “foreigners” at all. But again, one would have to be wilfully blind not to recognize that there are huge political issues at play between Jews and Arabs in Israel. You are probably aware of this stuff already, so I’ll spare you the details, especially since I’ve written enough already and should probably start to wind down here.
On a final note, I will add that the US military presence in Germany was to stem the encroachment of the USSR into Europe. The presence in Japan was supposed to stem the encroachment of the Sino-USSR bloc into Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. The USSR was never really a problem in the Middle East, except perhaps in Egypt and Yemen, but never in the Gulf per se. Also, the Arabs are definitely not of the same caliber as the Germans and Japanese. The Germans and Japanese are far more disciplined than the Arabs and perhaps more importantly also far more committed to the Western project. I sort of can understand how US bases were relatively successful in Germany and Japan (don’t forget though that the Okinawans have historically complained bitterly about the conduct of US troops on their territory), but that Arabs would have a problem with this kind of thing. Even then, we can’t speak for all Arabs, since some are obviously perfectly fine with the arrangement.
I have other things I want to say about the region, on subjects like climate change, resource depletion and global competitiveness, but I’ll end here.