After all the failure, they still look at our wars in the Middle East as some kind of golden age.
I wish to call attention to an instructive essay about U.S. policy in the Middle East—instructive in the sense that it reveals the utterly impoverished nature of establishment thinking on this subject. The title of the essay is “The US Has One Last Chance to Halt Its Withdrawal from the Middle East.” The author is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, who shall remain nameless since I bear him no ill will. Let us refer to him simply as X, in honor of George Kennan, author of a famous 1947 essay offering counsel on how to deal with the Soviet Union. Kennan published that essay under the pseudonym X. And so shall I refer to the author of “One Last Chance.”
Kennan’s purpose was to sound the alarm regarding the Soviet threat and to propose what came to be called the strategy of Containment. The purpose of our present-day Mr. X is to sound the alarm about the United States lowering its profile in the Middle East. To avert that prospect, he proposes what can only be termed a strategy of staying-the-course-while-ignoring-the-facts.
X concedes that throughout the region, things have not gone especially well for the United States over the last couple of decades. He rightly notes that Americans are “still reeling from costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the continuing chaos in Syria, Yemen, and Libya.” He ever so briefly acknowledges that this is “a region where even pro-American governments are often undemocratic and can be disdainful of fundamental human rights” and “where billions of dollars are spent that would be better used at home.”
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