The U.S. Needs a ‘Big Idea’ to Frame Its Middle East Policy

The foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt and Israel listen as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference, Sde Boker, Israel, March 28, 2022 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).
The foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt and Israel listen as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference, Sde Boker, Israel, March 28, 2022 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).
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The U.S. hasn’t “quit” the Middle East, notwithstanding the frequent complaints of its regional partners. But Washington has clearly scaled back its engagement in the region, especially in military terms, from its peak during the first decade after 9/11. This shift in the U.S. role has generated rancorous debate. Washington’s partners in the region complain about feeling abandoned, while its rivals crow about driving the U.S. out of the Middle East. Back in the U.S., many hawks clamor for more military confrontation, particularly with Iran, while those who argue for restraint are willing to tolerate chaos and armed conflict so long as […]

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