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It’s Time to Get the U.S. Military Out of the Middle East

It’s Time to Get the U.S. Military Out of the Middle East
A U.S. soldier signals to a colleague while working near a Patriot missile battery at Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 5, 2021 (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jao’Torey Johnson via AP).

Last week, former U.S. President Donald Trump raised the prospect that the United States, and specifically the administration of President Joe Biden, was responsible for Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. In an interview on Fox News, Trump opined that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely gained “a little more ambition” following the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Though Trump himself negotiated and sealed the deal that led to that withdrawal, his claim seizes on a core principle of U.S. foreign policy: that it is a vital interest of the U.S. to remain militarily committed to the “Greater Middle East” region, stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan. So, too, does the Biden administration’s rebuttal of accusations that it is “withdrawing” from the region. As an unnamed “senior U.S. Defense Department official” recently put it in a briefing to reporters, Washington has an “enduring” commitment to its partners in the Middle East that includes “supporting their defense and increasing and strengthening the strategic partnerships with each of these countries.”

Both Trump’s accusation of U.S. fecklessness and the U.S. official’s affirmation of Washington’s resolve stem from the conviction that a continued U.S. military presence is critical to preventing the Middle East from falling into complete chaos, and that a retreat would embolden enemies not just in the region, but around the world.

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