History Department Chair Kader Adjout teaches an elective called “The Middle East.” In a recent blog post, he asks students to respond to a brief, but not simple, prompt: “What should the U.S. role in the Middle East be?” Here are a few student responses.
The United States should keep promoting democracy and freedom in the Middle East, safely that is, while slowing breaking free of entanglements. The U.S. needs to stop thinking that they are the “parents” of the world and control everything and everywhere. Yes, this country does have a right to promote their political values and freedoms, but only by means of safety and by not taking the freedoms and rights away from others. Of course, this is a very hard task for any one to complete, therefore, the next step would be to let go of the whole situation and focus on the countries internal problems.
I agree with Sheyda; since the U.S. has gotten involved in the Middle East it is not right for the U.S. to simply turn their backs on the mess they have helped create. They can do this, as Sheyda said, by “promoting democracy and freedom” safely and peacefully. This means the U.S. cannot oppress any of the people in the Middle East, (or anywhere for that matter). The U.S. does not have the right to ‘police’ the rest of the world; no one gave the U.S. that job and clearly many countries do not support what the U.S. is doing (http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=34471). I believe that the U.N. should be playing a greater part in this conflict than the U.S.
I agree with Sheyda and Emma in the United States should play a major role in promoting democracy and freedom in the Middle East. However I disagree with the statement that the United States does not have a right to police the Middle East. I believe if any part or region of the Middle East is a threat to American safety or economics, then the United States has a right to intervene and police. If promoting democracy and freedom is a part of “policing”, it is a necessary action. I think we have to support our allies in the Middle East yet still have respect for the adversaries. The way of going about United States interest should be diplomacy first and military conflict only if absolutely necessary to national security.
I have to say that I agree with both of these opinions, to an extent. While the U.S. does have good reason to promote human rights and freedom in the Middle East, it has no right to impose its own cultural and societal views on other countries. Being a large nation of considerable power and wealth, the United States should be willing to help countries who want help, but should not decide what any other country needs or impress its values on them. The U.S. should liken its agenda to that of Egypt, which seeks primarily to create peace and stability in the region rather than favor any sides.