Saturday, April 2, 2016

One (questionable) prescription for U.S. policy in the Mideast

I was just listening to a rebroadcast on C-Span radio of a panel discussion from earlier in the week at the Hudson Institute. Michael Doran [Wiki entry here], a senior fellow at Hudson Institute who served on G.W. Bush's National Security Council (and has a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton), argued that the U.S. is neglecting and/or dissing its traditional allies, e.g. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and that the Obama admin and the leading Repub candidates are perpetuating illusions about the Iranian and  Russian role in the region. 

In an analysis noteworthy for its complete candor about the presumptive desirability of American hegemony, Doran said that while the U.S. doesn't share the same values as the Saudi Arabian rulers or (increasingly) Erdogan of Turkey, they have shown themselves to be "status quo" powers (Doran's phrase) who accept a continuing American hegemonic (Doran's word) role in the Mideast, whereas Iran and Russia are "revisionist" powers who want to diminish America's influence and generally make trouble for the U.S.

His prescription? More support for and collaboration with the U.S.'s "traditional allies." He made no mention of Saudi Arabia's recent actions (i.e. fairly indiscriminate, from many reports, bombing) in Yemen, for which it's been widely criticized. No mention of the amount of military aid the U.S. gives to, and/or arms sales the U.S. conducts with, Saudi Arabia. Doran criticized what he said were the false assumptions underlying the Obama admin's policy in Syria and the region but didn't offer a specific alternative beyond (1) more support for 'traditional allies', (2) more support for 'moderate' groups in Syria, and (3) a focus on the area of jidahist activity stretching from Baghdad to Aleppo (his phrase) without a single-minded focus on ISIS.

The main strategic goal should not be the defeat of ISIS, he argued, but the countering of the Russian-Iranian combination and its "network of militias" so as to facilitate the groundwork for a new regional order (or words to that effect). Of course the '03 invasion of Iraq was also supposed to lay the groundwork for a new regional order. We know how that worked out.


Peter T said...

No preliminary consideration of whether US hegemony is actually achievable? Probably not. This is Washington.

LFC said...

I was pretty sure you would comment on this one, Peter. :)

Peter T said...

Some train-wrecks you just can't look away from.

LFC said...


btw, i'm behind on some things and need to take a break from posting, for real this time. I'm not planning to do more in April here, at any rate (barring something totally unforeseen that simply cannot pass w/o comment).