But a long term presence in the Middle East is even harder to pull off. Despite the cultural gap that exists in Asian societies, the gap is bigger with the Middle East. Its an atmosphere where a serviceman getting bacon in a care package or getting caught with alcohol could cause a major problem. Already we’ve had multiple incidents where American servicemen have been accused of desecrating the Qu’ran multiple times. That doesn’t even take into account our interrogation policies that are calculated to humiliate and insult the Muslims we are interrogating or the fact that there are a lot of people in the United States with casting our fight against terrorism as a fight against Islam in general and have no problem insulting Muslims.
Thats not to say that we couldn’t keep long term bases. Certainly we could, if we were willing to devote the resources to maintain them, as we did in Saudi Arabia and do in Qatar and Kuwait. The question is would it be counterproductive to establish a long term presence? I think it would be. It would inflame public opinion in the Islamic world, especially when these types of incidents occur. It would give al-Qaeda and their ideological ilk a valuable recruiting tool. Yet John McCain continues to insist that a 100+ year presence in Iraq is no big deal.