After the U.S. strike on Qasem Soleimani, Americans feared the United States was on the brink of war with Iran. “World War III draft” memes circulated around the internet, and the Selective Service website crashed. Such fear of another so-called “forever war” exemplifies a growing narrative against U.S. engagement overseas and in the Middle East, but one that will ultimately damage U.S. interests in the region. If the United States is unable to implement a sustainable Middle East strategy, security and manning requirements will only continue to distract from greater U.S. foreign policy priorities such as strategic competition with China and Russia.
The motivation to end forever wars and reduce U.S. involvement in the Middle East is compelling. President Trump has himself latched onto this idea, tweeting his opposition and withdrawing some U.S. troops from Syria last fall. However, America’s best shot at preventing a “forever war” is not a total withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region. Previous attempts to ignore the Middle East have only resulted in being pulled back in — as the Trump administration has experienced in its effort to conventionally deter Iran by deploying 20,000 additional U.S. troops to the region.
Read the full article in Defense One.
More from CNAS
CommentaryBig Ideas for NATO’s New Mission in Iraq
Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for America’s allies to “get more involved in the Middle East,” NATO defense ministers last month agreed to “enhance” the Atlanti...
By David H. Petraeus & Vance Serchuk
PodcastNicholas Heras and Kaleigh Thomas Discuss the Future of Iraq and Syria's Security
The U.S. counter-ISIS mission in Iraq and Syria was predicated on working by, with, and through local partners. Now the Trump administration has partially withdrawn troops fro...
By Nicholas Heras & Kaleigh Thomas
CommentaryRussia’s Middle East Power Play
Turkey flouted months of American warnings this summer and took delivery of the Russian-made S-400 air-defense system — triggering Ankara’s expulsion from the F-35 stealth-fig...
By Vance Serchuk
PodcastIn or Out? What Should the U.S. Do in Syria?
Nicholas A. Heras asks three notable experts on U.S. national security decision making—Frances Z. Brown, Melissa Dalton, and Loren DeJonge Schulman—whether the Uni...
By Nicholas Heras, Frances Z. Brown, Melissa Dalton & Loren DeJonge Schulman