January 26, 2023

Constructing a New Middle East: In Pursuit of an American-Led Regional Security Architecture

On Jan. 19, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan traveled to Israel for his first meeting with Israel’s new government. While Iran policy likely featured prominently in Sullivan’s discussions with returning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is perhaps the world’s most hostile and outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear deal, Sullivan had an opportunity to advance another policy of quintessential strategic concern to America: developing an integrated regional security architecture.

Washington has a rare moment where policy and politics could align to build and ultimately achieve something of lasting strategic value that delivers better and more sustainable security outcomes.

For decades, U.S. Middle East policy has been defined by the outsized, persistent presence of U.S. troops. First, they were there to fight Baathists in Iraq. Then, the violent extremists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. And finally, to assure twitchy partners who feared what Iran might do if the U.S. military left. Year in, and year out, U.S. forces have rotated in and out of the region—and, of course, some never came home. Others came home with wounds both visible and not. This policy of presence had a human cost, and a pecuniary cost that can be measured in trillions of dollars. The opportunity cost of both is likely unquantifiable.

Over the course of years, many things changed slowly, as if the tectonic plates were shifting under the very feet of U.S. troops. Now, two years into the Biden administration, Sullivan has an opportunity to redefine the U.S. military’s future presence and role in the Middle East.

Read the full article from Lawfare.

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