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A militiaman allied with the Iraqi security forces dismantles a weapon from a destroyed vehicle belonging to the Islamic State group, southern Ramadi, Anbar province, Iraq, July 20, 2015 (AP Photo).

Why Americans Won’t Like the New Middle East Order

Friday, July 24, 2015

For decades U.S. policy in the Middle East focused on two things: Israel and oil. Helping to keep Israel secure was not hard since the Israelis themselves had it well under control. Making sure that oil flowed was more challenging since most of it was owned by brittle monarchies or dictators, but the United States and its allies found a way. This emphasis on Israel and oil led to an American strategy that was remarkably consistent even when the White House changed hands. Its goal was stability built on partnerships with local states when possible and direct action if necessary.

Then things began to unravel. The George W. Bush administration abandoned America’s longstanding emphasis on stability and attempted to transform the region without committing the strategic resources that a task of that magnitude demanded, instead simply toppling the old order in Iraq and hoping a better one emerged. Discontent with the region’s authoritarian regimes, whether monarchies or old-fashioned dictatorships, exploded, driven by global connectivity and information technology. New violent, transnational, religious-based revolutionary movements proliferated and put down roots. And Iran continued to undercut the old order where it remained, often by playing the sectarian card and exploiting hostility toward Israel. ...

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