Rebooting the U.S.’s Middle East Policy

Friday, December 19, 2014

To reboot its policy in the Middle East, the United States need not follow any sophisticated programs or up-to-date ideas. It needs only to act according to a rule as old as the Greeks and Romans: help your friends and hurt your enemies. America’s friends in the Middle East are the pro-Western (or at least largely pro-Western) regimes, whether democracies, monarchies, or rule by strongmen, states such as Egypt, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the U.A.E, and the pro-western elements in troubled regimes such as Lebanon and Palestine, as well as in outright enemies such as Iran, where the U.S. should support the anti-government movement. Its enemies are al-Qaeda, Iran, ISIS, and the Islamist elements in failed states such as Libya—in short, the various elements of the Islamist front. America needs to support its friends financially and militarily. Although it should exercise due caution and judge every case carefully, it needs to be ready to intervene directly in the region, with ground troops if necessary. To do so will require a military buildup, which will in turn require the support of the American people. So new policies will need sound political leadership at home to educate the public and to rally its will. America should pay due attention to the sensitivities of the region’s and the world’s billion Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom are good and peaceable. By the same token, it should remember that what the world esteems above all is strength and success. The U.S. should not be afraid to use force when needed; on the contrary, it should recognize that the successful application of force advances peace.

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