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Pioneer Editorial: U.S.: Show caution in Middle East

Events of recent weeks have proven to test the mettle of the Obama administration on foreign policy. With large numbers of U.S. troops already in two Middle East countries, the administration must remain cautious about committing more to any other effort in the Middle East.

First the weeks' long protest in Egypt which saw the overthrown of its president; now we have a regime under siege in Libya. Meanwhile, skirmishes continue to break out in other Arab nations.

The current hotspot is Libya, where Friday night militia loyal to Moammar Gadhafi sprayed a hail of bullets into crowds of protesters inTripoli.

President Barack Obama announced Friday night that the United States would take sanctions in the form of freezing the assets held by Gadhafi and four of his children in the United States. In an executive order, the president said the U.S. would impose unilateral sanctions because of the violence in Libya poses an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to America's national security and foreign policy.

It is sad to say that the threat to America's security is not one of a military nature, but one of an economic nature as each day of more intense rioting in the streets in yet another Arab nation threatens the oil supply we so much depend upon. Just look at the price of gasoline in the past month.

The United Nations Security Council will consider sanctions at its meeting next Friday, and NATO has said it is monitoring the situation but has no plans for intervention.

The U.S., outside of sanctions, should also express caution before committing troops to any kind of peacekeeping effort in the Middle East. U.S. forces are already waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and should not be tested on a third front.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in an address Friday at West Point, warned of expanding forces beyond the two fronts now deployed in major force. Future wars will be fought in the air and at sea, not with massive armies in a ground assault, he said.

"The Army and the rest of the government must focus on capabilities that can prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly -- and controversial -- large-scale American military intervention," Gates said. Iran does pose a serious threat first to Israeli security and then to ours with military capability sooner rather than later with the aomic bomn Spreading U.S. forces even thinner in the Middle East could make Iran even more brazen.

The United States should be ready to offer humanitarian aid, but engage in another armed intervention. The time has come for NATO and the United Nations to take a leadership role in a peacekeeping force, not a good time for the U.S. to spread itself even thinner. It is also perhaps time for Russia and China to show that they can provide peacekeeping efforts rather than offensive capability for which we also must be prepared to defend against.

With thousands of years of history at work in the Middle East, perhaps the wisest thing for the West to do is sit back, protect Israel, and contain whatever happens in the Middle East to the Middle East.

And, we need to ween ourselves off Middle East oil as quick as we can.