America’s clout in the Middle East is waning, but this is not the fruit of an inexorable process divorced from human will. Rather it reflects aggressive bids by other actors—Iran, Russia, Turkey, and a variety of Islamist factions—to enhance their power at the same time that America has pursued a policy of lowering its profile and shrinking its footprint.
The United States does not have an image problem in the Middle East. It has a reality problem. The United States has lost credibility in the Middle East by abandoning its friends and reaching out to its enemies.
An important first step in rebooting U.S. Middle East policy and more effectively addressing the roots of the problems that have manifested into threats to U.S. and international security demands that we more holistically embrace Sun Tzu’s maxim of the importance of knowing one’s enemy.