The Caravan

The Caravan

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Issue 1921

Toward a Middle East Strategy
Introduction
Introduction

The Collapsing Strategic Context

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In designing an optimal American strategy toward the Middle East, two factors stand out.  One is that now, as most always in the past, the climate of opinion is both “this is the last chance for peace” and “this is a time when nothing can be done”.  The second is that whatever happens in the region at this point in the 21st century will affect and be affected by negative and dangerous new trends in the other power centers of the world: China, Russia, the U.S., and even the European Union.

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

Why America Can't Quit The Middle East

by Hal Brandsvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 21, 2019

One of the most persistent myths about U.S. foreign policy is the idea that America desires—due to greed, messianic ideological impulses, or simple imperial presumptions—to dominate the Middle East. In reality, American policy has long been torn by two conflicting imperatives: The need to protect enduring U.S. interests, on the one hand, and the desire to stay clear of the region’s unending headaches, on the other. 

Featured Analysis

No Exit: The U.S. Predicament in the Middle East

by Henri J. Barkeyvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 21, 2019

“L'enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions” (the road to hell is paved with good intentions) goes a French expression. Years of American involvement in the Middle East to fashion a region that is stable, peaceful, more prosperous and more respectful of human rights has proven, so far at least, a failure. As a result, U.S. decision makers, thinkers and certainly the public at large are increasingly expressing their exasperation with that region.

Featured Analysis

Thinking About A Strategy For The Middle East

by Dennis Rossvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Strategy starts with understanding our interests and the objectives that flow from those interests.  In the Middle East, our interests have evolved but perhaps less than many may think.  After the Second World War, when the US assumed more global responsibilities, Democratic and Republican Presidents saw the Middle East as vital to our interests because of its oil and geo-strategic centrality.  The unimpeded flow of its oil was necessary for global economic health and for the reconstruction of Europe—which was perceived as an essential national security priority. 

Featured Analysis

“Going Short” In The Middle East

by Samuel Helfontvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In finance, “going short” is a way to make money on stocks that lose value. Nassim Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, reportedly used this tactic to make millions during financial crises. He did not know exactly when or why the markets would crash, but he knew they eventually would. Then he cashed in.  In many ways, going short is the opposite of traditional investment. In traditional investments one bets on success. In going short, one bets on failure. For over a decade, the United States has been trying to find a way to declare victory in the Middle East so that it can leave.

Featured Analysis

Middle East Perceptions Of An America Adrift

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 28, 2019

American strategy towards the Middle East has long been based on maintaining the twin pillars of security and stability in a region of geostrategic importance. At a crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia, the Middle East has been historically significant for its energy supplies and passageways connecting the east and the west. To advance American interests, the United States has traditionally sought to maintain its position of influence through regional partnerships and with its military presence. Today though, there is a widespread perception that the US may be abandoning the Middle East. 

Featured Analysis

U.S. Middle East Strategy

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Middle East remains today a troublesome area for the United States. American interests in the region are threatened by a host of adversaries from a resurgent Russia, a hegemonic Iranian desire and campaign of subversion, and Jihadi threat that has morphed from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State. Moreover, despite long U.S. investments and alliances, the region remains deeply anti-American. 

Featured Analysis

The US Role In The Middle East In An Era Of Renewed Great Power Competition

by Eric Edelmanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What role should the United States play in the Middle East as its attention shifts to the objectives outlined in the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy of competing with near peers like Russia and China?  Today pundits and observers are posing this question against a backdrop of more than a decade and a half of costly, inconclusive and seemingly “endless” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the more recent deployment of roughly two thousand Special Forces troops to Syria as part of the counter ISIS campaign.  To President Trump the answer seems clear.  He noted in April 2018 at an Ohio rally “we’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon.

Featured Analysis

Getting Back To Basics

by Tony Badranvia The Caravan
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Since the end of the Cold War — and, most dramatically, in the Bush and Obama years — American strategy in the Middle East has shifted from one anchored in the state system to one focused on non-state actors, particularly terrorist groups, and on projects disconnected from geopolitics.  The result has been the return — after nearly five decades — of Russian sway, the commandeering of large swaths of territory by Iran, and the emergence on the scene of China. The Russian-Iranian military campaign in Syria, and the increasing Chinese influence in the Middle East require a return to Cold War principles.

Featured Analysis

U.S Middle East Policy Must Contend With The New Power On The Block

by Afshin Molavivia The Caravan
Thursday, April 4, 2019

The year 1993 is not normally seen as a geopolitically defining year. As Bill Clinton took the oath of office in Washington, the big geopolitical events of the past few years -- the fall of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, the rise of newly independent Eastern European states - continued to reverberate but the world, it seemed, had entered the post-Cold War peace dividend era and the American unipolar moment. Across Middle East capitals, there was no doubt who the great power was in the world. The United States had no rival.

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Featured Analysis

The Great Retreat

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Monday, April 16, 2012

As the 2014 promised departure from Afghanistan draws nearer, popular support for the war is dwindling, and not only in the United States.

Featured Analysis

To stay, to quit, or to soldier on in Afghanistan?

by Thomas H. Henriksenvia The Caravan
Monday, April 16, 2012

In a twist on the dilemma faced by Shakespeare’s Hamlet—“to be or not to be”—Americans now ask themselves the question in light of several recent setbacks in Afghanistan: to stay or to get out?  If the United States stays, can the war be won?  If it leaves, what will be the co

Featured Analysis

Under Eastern Eyes

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Monday, April 16, 2012

When Alexander the Great led soldiers of the world’s sole superpower into Afghanistan he did not fulfill the requirements of today’s counterinsurgency doctrine.  He “cleared”, and he “built” – the cities today called Herat, Kandahar, and Bagram – but he didn’t “hold”.  He move

Featured Analysis

Nothing Left

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Monday, April 16, 2012

The Afghans want us to stay, so it is long past time to haul up the gear and leave the Hindu Kush to its ways.  In one of his many outrageous statements, Hamid Karzai, last November, laid out his view of our place in his scheme of things.  “The lion doesn’t like it if a foreig

Introduction

What Can Be Done About Syria?

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

For the first Caravan symposium we take up the ordeal of Syria, now nearly a full year into a terrible struggle between a dictatorial regime and a rebellion determined to overthrow it. What can be done about Syria? 

Featured Analysis

"Rattle The Turbans" - Defeating Iran in Syria

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

“What are the range of options open to the United States, and other powers, in the face of the large-scale violence that the Assad regime has unleashed on the Syrian people?”

Featured Analysis

Syria's Future

by Habib Malikvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Assad regime is certainly a brutal and merciless regime when it comes to stifling any internal dissent or throwing its weight around neighboring countries.  Few have forgotten the multipronged misery caused to the Lebanese by Syria’s nearly three-decade long occupation of

Featured Analysis

The Turkish Option

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

The cruel violence that the Assad regime is directing against the Syrian population has elicited words of condemnation across the world. Fleeing the wrath of the Syrian military, refugees have poured over the borders into Jordan, Lebanon and, especially, Turkey.

Featured Analysis

Western Inaction, Lebensraum For Jihad

by Nibras Kazimivia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

At this point, almost a year into the Syrian revolt, we know this much: President Barack Obama is unwilling to tip the scales, with American heft, against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Featured Analysis

Syria and Iran: Kindred Souls?

by Abbas Milanivia The Caravan
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stakes in Syria are high.

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The Caravan is envisaged as a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. It will be a free and candid exchange of opinions. We shall not lack for topics of debate, for that arc of geography has contentions aplenty. It is our intention to come back with urgent topics that engage us. Caravans are full of life and animated companionship. Hence the name we chose for this endeavor.

We will draw on the membership of Hoover's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, and on colleagues elsewhere who work that same political and cultural landscape. Russell Berman and Charlie Hill cochair the project from which this effort originates.