That would have been the title I picked for my recent Foreign Policy essay that has caused an uproar. In fact, the title the editors used, "It's Time to Bring Imperialism Back to the Middle East," misrepresented what I wrote. Rather than argue for renewed imperialism, I chronicled how imperialism helped stabilize the Middle East for significant periods in the past and analyzed the post-imperial future that now awaits us in the region. The Foreign Policy editors did change the title to "The Ruins of Empire in the Middle East," which more accurately reflects my text.
In response to vigorous debate over U.S. strategy in Iraq following ISIS’ conquest of Ramadi, seven Center for a New American Security (CNAS) experts have written short commentaries on U.S. options in the country. These commentaries reflect a broad range of viewpoints, recommending everything from “doing more now,” to creating a regional strategy, to empowering the Sunni population.
In response to vigorous debate over U.S. strategy in Iraq following ISIS’ conquest of Ramadi, Senior Fellow Robert D. Kaplan has written a new Press Note arguing that the United States must be certain not to get “trapped” in Iraq again.
Though imperialism is now held in disrepute, empire has been the default means of governance for most of recorded history, and the collapse of empires has always been messy business, whether in China and India from antiquity through the early 20th century or in Europe following World War I.
Editors’ note: The original headline of Robert Kaplan’s article, chosen by the editors, generated some controversy and was subsequently changed to better reflect the argument of the text. Below, Kaplan responds to the criticism regarding the original headline:
As the United States and Iran near an historic nuclear agreement there is an intense debate about whether a deal represents capitulation to Iranian interests in the Middle East or an opportunity to help stabilize the region. If the United States and its partners learn the lessons of previous nuclear negotiations with Iran, and pursue a tightly coordinated strategy in the region, there is a potential over the next few years to ameliorate the conflict-ridden Middle East.
Appeasement is an age-old tactic of diplomacy. It can be a defensible one, but not as a frame of mind for an entire continent. Yet no word captures the general mood of Europe better than appeasement.
Europeans, it has been said, cherish freedom but do not want to sacrifice anything for it. Only about half a dozen of Nato’s 28 members spend 2 per cent of output on defence, the alliance’s guideline level. When Vladimir Putin’s Russia undermined the strategic state of Ukraine, they stood and watched.
Throughout all the vicissitudes of dealing with Iran, an obvious fact has been insufficiently addressed: The external behavior of Iran's regime is simply more dynamic and more effective than that of any other Muslim regime in the Middle East. Iran has constructed thousands of centrifuges. Tehran has trained and equipped Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shiite forces in Iraq and Yemen, and it has propped up Syria's embattled president. Turkey and the Arab world appear sleepy-eyed in comparison. Iran acts.
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