How to Achieve Peace in the Middle East (Some good news and some bad news)

International, Political Cartoons, Writing

Peace in the Middle East

Will the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal be good for the region?

Most events are at once good news and bad news. Every action that takes place in such a complex environment invariably causes a chain reaction of mostly unpredictable consequences. The only choice that leaders have is to set in motion a plan that seems like it has the best chance at not becoming a total catastrophe.

The Iran-U.S. nuclear deal, if it goes through, will have far-reaching and ambiguous effects on the region. A well-executed deal could suspend Iran’s nuclear weapons program, deescalate a decades-old cold war between U.S. and Iran, and provide relief to millions of Iranians struggling with a crippled economy. A deal could also allow the Iranian government to double down on its support for the Assad regime in Syria, which is currently dropping barrel-bombs on its citizens. The deal could strain ties between the U.S. and its longtime allies in the Persian Gulf like Saudi Arabia. A deal could have effects on the price of oil, as well as Russia’s economy and its government’s behavior.

While the sum of the effects will be incalculable, engaging with Iran does create more opportunities to effectively deal with the very pressing problems that exist in the region — not to mention the ones that will inevitably come up.  For now, it’s impossible to say if the framework for the U.S.-Iran deal is good news or bad news, but I’d risk that as a guess for moving forward, it’s as good as any.

The Harm of Limited Intervention in Syria

International, Writing

U.S. Intervention in Syria Cartoon

One of my first editorial cartoons was a single panel criticism of Russia’s blatant support for the Assad regime, which had already begun massacring the Syrian opposition. Two years later, I think it’s also appropriate to criticize U.S. policy, which is supporting moderate elements of the opposition in a hesitant and limited manner. The CIA-administered support, which includes non-military aid as well as small arms, and recently, a number of anti-tank weapons, has helped sustain the opposition against the Syrian army without tipping the balance in the opposers’ favor. If one believes in both the competency and cruelty of U.S. foreign policy, this strategy could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to subject each side to the slow, bloody death of a civil-war stalemate, with hopes of some negotiated settlement down the line. However, the U.S.’s limited intervention could simply be a clumsy and risk-averse policy meant to create the illusion of “helping,” while inadvertently prolonging the conflict and allowing more lives to be lost on both sides.