In discussions of geostrategic global affairs today, the state of the U.S. economy sits front and center.
In a speech this week at the Young America’s Foundation National Conservative Student Conference, Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to college students about likely “flash points” in global affairs in the near future.
McFarland urged young people to watch the development of events in the Middle East as Egypt holds its first elections after the ouster of Hosni Murbarak, the U.S. pulls out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the United Nations votes on a Palestinian state.
While an affirmative decision on Palestinian statehood is almost a foregone conclusion in the UN General Assembly vote, the Security Council has vowed to veto it. The vote is of great symbolic importance, however, because it will raise the expectations of Palestinians. Particularly in light of the Arab Spring changes going on in Egypt, tensions could easily escalate into a Third Intifada, McFarland said. While the first and second intifadas had little direct importance for the United States, she said, this time could be very different because of the continuing Arab Spring shakeup in the Middle East.
It is likely that the Muslim Brotherhood, an al-Qaeda affiliate, will win a majority in the Egyptian elections to be held in September or October of this year. If so, Egypt could well abrogate its peace treaty with Israel.
The U.S. pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan leaves a weakened Iraq and “bright prospects for Iran,” McFarland said.
The Middle East has not been pregnant with such earthshaking events since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.
Yet when asked by HUMAN EVENTS what the most important issue in global affairs is today, what Americans should all be calling their congressmen about, without missing a beat, McFarland responded, “Fix the economy. Give people jobs.”
“If America does not get its economic house in order, nothing else matters,” she told students.
McFarland, who has served in national security positions in three administrations, including as Reagan’s deputy assistant secretary of defense, likened America’s current economic and political situation to that just prior to Reagan’s presidency. Only after he straightened out the economy during his first term, did Reagan take on the Soviet Union.
“We need to reform the tax system, fix the loopholes and get people to reinvest in America,” she told HUMAN EVENTS. “There are no immediate threats to our survival. We need to take this opportunity.”
When asked for her analysis of the prospects of a nuclear North Korea and Iran, McFarland said, “I don’t think North Korea will use nuclear weapons once it gets them. I worry about North Korea as a nuclear weapons exporter.”
Right now North Koreans are starving and the country is in a succession crisis. The next son in line to take the dictator’s seat is weak and may attempt something rash to prove his metal, she said.
If or when Iran gains nuclear capability, there will almost certainly be an arms race in the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia has vowed it will not remain unarmed with a nuclear Iran, McFarland said. Iran’s program was set back considerably—probably several years—as a result of the cyber attack it sustained last summer, she said.
She said the Stuxnet worm was likely a joint American-Israeli project.
McFarland said that, besides getting our economy back in order, America’s vital strategic interests include keeping oil affordable and dealing with our vulnerability to nuclear and cyber attacks. We also have a vital interest in the security of Israel, she said.
For the near future, she told HUMAN EVENTS, “The big question will be: Does democracy work? Today with entitlements, we’ve got 40% to 50% of people taking out more than they put in. The question is, will we vote for the guy that says, ‘We’ve got to tighten our belt’?”
Asked what the best advice she had ever received as a leader was, McFarland said, “Follow your instincts. This is the case with anything, from running for office to the person you’re going to marry.” It is important to consult experts and to be well-advised, but at the end of the day a person must be at peace with his own decisions, she said.
McFarland encouraged young people to get involved in the political process. “Your generation is so lucky,” she said. “You have an opportunity that won’t come again. Things are changing. The Republican establishment has been pushed aside by the Tea Party.”
“The world is going to change. The train is leaving and you want to be on it,” she said.