The Biden Team Just Unveiled a Reality-Based Middle East Policy

The Biden Team Just Unveiled a Reality-Based Middle East Policy
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, Dec. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

What is the U.S. up to in the Middle East? How does the granular reality of developments as seen from the region square with Washington’s strategic assessment?

Last week, a senior Biden administration official offered some answers to those questions in a briefing for journalists on the White House’s plan for a realistic, downsized Middle East policy. (Though the official remained anonymous, it sounds an awful lot like Brett McGurk ). Whether or not this plan will work—and I’m not so sure that it will—the administration’s description of its own approach sounds accurate, and that’s a welcome change. It does away with the huge “bombast gap” that has historically existed between what Washington is doing in the Middle East and what it thinks—or says—it’s doing there. Equally importantly, what the U.S. is trying to do in the region, at least diplomatically, is to drastically lower expectations—no big breakthroughs, no transformative realignments, no blossoming of democracy—while engaging across the board on issue management.

“We’re not trying to achieve the unachievable; we’re not trying to transform the Middle East,” the unnamed senior official said. “We’re focused on the interests that impact Americans and our national security, and the national security of our friends. And we think those are achievable aims with deterrence, de-escalation, integration being three themes we’re pursuing.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review