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.

E.g., 4 / 21 / 2019
E.g., 4 / 21 / 2019
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Issue 1713

Egypt: Past and Present Keystone of the Arab-Islamic World
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Issue 1612

Strategic Considerations in the Greater Middle East
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Issue 1611

How should Europe respond to Islamism? What are the consequences of the flood refugees? What strategy should America pursue in the face of the European crisis?
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Issue 1610

How do you understand shifting Saudi strategy and what is its significance for broader Middle East policy?

Introduction

by Hoover Institution Tuesday, February 9, 2016
article

Featured Analysis

by Russell A. Berman Tuesday, February 9, 2016
article
by David Schenker Wednesday, February 10, 2016
article
by Jane Kinninmont Thursday, February 11, 2016
article
by Reuel Marc Gerecht Friday, February 12, 2016
article
by Simon Henderson Tuesday, February 16, 2016
article
by Abbas Milani Wednesday, February 17, 2016
article
by Toby C. Jones Thursday, February 18, 2016
article
by Karen Elliott House Friday, February 19, 2016
article
by Toby Matthiesen Monday, February 22, 2016
article
by Charles Hill Monday, February 22, 2016
article

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Featured Analysis

The Legacy Of Saddam’s Islam

by Samuel Helfontvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Anyone examining Islam in Saddam’s Iraq (1979-2003) and the legacy of that period today is quickly confronted with a tangled web of problematic definitions and eclectic ideologies. Untangling this web is essential for identifying what really drives Iraqi politics, and doing so provides one with some hope that sectarian differences can still be overcome.  Paradoxically, it also does not augur well for the chances for stability in the country anytime soon. 

Introduction

Navigating The Realm Of Political Theology In The Greater Middle East

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, November 29, 2018

The modern world—or the era we blithely have been calling “modern”—has defined itself against religion. The Treaty of Westphalia, which inaugurated today’s international state system, pushed religion to diplomacy’s margins to avoid, it was hoped, further wars of religion as had propelled the Thirty Years’ War from 1618-1648.

Featured Analysis

On China’s Western Front

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Problems in China’s restive northwest province of Xinjiang have long been simmering, but recent developments point to growing troubles, as news reports and statements by international organizations have significantly raised public attention.  Beijing is engaged in programmatic efforts to suppress the ethnic identity of the Uighur people, a population of 11 million, while combatting their aspirations for political autonomy or even independence.

Featured Analysis

The Long Encounter: China And Islam’s Irreconcilable Tensions

by Michael R. Auslinvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

China’s relationship with Islam goes back to the 7th century, when Arab merchants and envoys traveled to Canton (Guangzhou) to discuss trade ties with the Tang dynasty. Building mosques and madrassas, hosting preachers, and creating largely homogenous enclaves within China, Muslim communities persisted throughout repeated disintegration and reformation of Chinese dynasties. 

Featured Analysis

China's Final Solution In Xinjiang

by Miles Maochun Yuvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Since its founding in 1949, the Chinese communist government in Beijing has long considered a northwestern region on its vast political map a primary troubled spot for the regime and has systematically implemented various measures to seek total control of this important territory. Of the four non-China Proper areas, the other three, i.e. Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet have longer, and more complicated historical connections with China.

Featured Analysis

China & Middle East: Regional Rebalancing

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Middle East, a region once embroiled in the Cold War struggle of east and west, is now bearing witness to new geopolitical shifts.   The emergence of Beijing on the Middle Eastern landscape where it is quenching its thirst for energy resources and forging regional relationships through its One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) with countries as diverse as Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comes at the expense of Washington’s longstanding primacy.  Many American strategists find China’s encroachment to be a troubling threat to U.S. national interests. 

Featured Analysis

Planning For Apocalypse: Environmental Change, Islamism, And China

by Sulmaan Wasif Khanvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Will a new wave of Islamist violence threaten China’s national interests over the coming decades? Good planning does not dismiss worst-case scenarios as unlikely; it asks, instead, how such a scenario might come to pass, thereby illuminating ways to avoid it. A combination of environmental stress and China’s deepening footprint abroad might well produce Islamist terrorism directed at Chinese across the world and at home. Avoiding this requires a strengthened commitment to environmental protection and to policies that mitigate Muslim discontent.

Featured Analysis

The Chinese Approach To Uyghur Separatism(*)

by Jacques Neriahvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Around 22 million Muslims live in China (PRC) today. The Hui, the majority Muslim group in China, are fully integrated into all echelons of Chinese society, and are allowed to practice their religion with almost no interference from the authorities. The dominant minority group, the Uyghurs (roughly 10 million people), are a Sunni Turkish-related population who speak a Turkish dialect and live in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. Other Muslim minority groups are Kazakhs, Dongxiangs, Salar, Tatars, Bonans, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Utsul, Kyrgyz, and Tibetans.

Featured Analysis

Enter The Dragon: China’s Belt And Road Rising In The Middle East

by Afshin Molavivia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Cairenes are not modest about their beloved city. It is Umm al-Dunya, they say, the mother of the world. They also call it simply Masr, the Arabic term for Egypt, suggesting, of course, that there is really nothing worth noting in the vast country beyond their grand city on the Nile.

Featured Analysis

Kazakhstan Is Moving Away From China

by Gordon G. Changvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Chinese leaders think they can imprison hundreds of thousands of Muslim citizens, attempt to eradicate their religion and culture, and maintain good relations with Central Asian countries and other Muslim-majority societies. The test of this breathtaking proposition is Kazakhstan.

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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.