Fellow Talks

The Worsening Situation in the Middle East–and America’s Role

Monday, October 20, 2014
General James Mattis speaks at Hoover's 2014 Fall Retreat
Image credit: 
Rod Searcey

At Hoover's 2014 Fall Retreat, General James Mattis, an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover, discussed US foreign policy in a talk entitled “The Worsening Situation in the Middle East–and America’s Role.” He began by describing the current state of the world: the breakdown of international institutions, the perception of America withdrawing in the international realm, and a lack of leadership accompanied by an unsustainable fiscal path in US domestic politics.  He argued that this state of affairs is a product of several “crosscurrents,” such as the hatred between Sunnis and Shias, the competition between authoritarian regimes and reformers, and the rivalry between secularists and Islamists.  He warned that the United States needs to appreciate and use its allies, such as the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, by constructing a policy that unites those allies with a sense of purpose and also convinces the American people of the importance of global leadership.  Should the United States achieve such a policy, Mattis argued, it can stop global problems such as ISIS.