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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

Sea Change In The Middle East

by Admiral Gary Rougheadvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

America’s view of the Middle East today is shaped by our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise and reach of ISIS, a grinding conflict in Syria, the region as a source of wider ranging terrorism and staggering outflows of refugees that is changing the political calculus in Europe. As our strategic role in the Middle East began with a meeting on the water so, too, are consequential changes there taking place at sea – the domain in which the U.S. has enjoyed unfettered access and dominance for over seventy years.   

Featured Analysis

The Perils Of “Perfecting”

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

“A Spectre is Haunting Europe” – again. Now, as in Marx’s proclamation, an idea generated in Europe has had consequences elsewhere that threaten modern civilization. Modernity’s world-spanning influence has been accurately and derogatorily labeled “Eurocentric.”

Featured Analysis

Solidarity, Liberal Democracy, And Eastern Europe Today

by Piotr H. Kosicki via The Caravan
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

In September 2015, eminent Princeton historian Jan T. Gross penned an essay entitled “Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Shame.” He wrote, “As thousands of refugees pour into Europe to escape the horrors of war, with many dying along the way, a different sort of tragedy has played out in many of the European Union’s newest member states.

Featured Analysis

On The Intersection Of German And Syrian History And The Enduring Importance Of "Coming To Terms With The Nazi Past."

by Jeffrey Herfvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A successful European wide response to Islamism calls for the following policies.

Featured Analysis

A European Crisis

by Olivier Decottigniesvia The Caravan
Monday, May 9, 2016

With the March 22nd Brussels attacks, the Islamic State did not merely hit Belgium: as Dabiq, the organization’s gory and glossy online magazine stressed, it also struck Europe “at its heart.”

Featured Analysis

The Battle For Europe

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Friday, May 6, 2016

In 2004 Gilles Kepel, the noted French scholar of the modern Middle East and Muslims in Europe, wrote: The bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004, established Europe as the new frontline for terrorist attacks. Before 9/11 Europe had provided a sanctuary where Al-Qaeda’s planners could complete preparations for the world-shattering operation they had conceived in the mountains of Afghanistan. But with the events in Madrid in spring 2004, Europe emerged as the primary battlefield on which the future of global Islam will be decided.

Featured Analysis

France Refuses To See Islamism As A Cultural Problem

by Fabrice Balanche via The Caravan
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Despite the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris, the French government refuses to acknowledge the link between terrorism in France, the crisis in the Middle East, and the complacency towards the threat of political Islam on the domestic scene. The truth is that the jihadists who  hit Paris and then Brussels on March 22, 2016, had been indoctrinated in the Salafi ideology sponsored by Saudi funded mosques, indirectly financed by private donors in the Gulf, and tolerated by Turkey - the country through which they pass to Europe. 

Featured Analysis

How Should Europe Respond To Islamism?

by Ted R. Bromundvia The Caravan
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In this era of mass and uncontrolled migrant flows, Adam Smith’s 1776 classic on The Wealth of Nations offers insight into the nature of the challenge posed by Islamism. Far from being a mere manual of economics, Smith’s work reveals how competition promotes progress across society and government, and how it created the modern state and the modern international state system.

Featured Analysis

Security, Strategy, And Values

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

ISIS terrorism in Paris and Brussels underscores the global character of the Islamist threat, but this should surprise no one, given the history of Islamist violence since September 11, 2001.

Introduction

Islamism, Refugees and the European Crisis

by Hoover Institutionvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The past several months have seen Europe reeling from ISIS attacks in Paris and Brussels. The European security forces have been called to task for their lack of coordination – this compulsion to keep secrets from other services has led in part to the success of these terror attacks.  

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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.