Examining the current situation in the Middle East, and arguing that the U.S. cannot afford to ignore the region, James Jay Carafano outlines some principles to guide its policy over the next few years, among them:
Iran remains the chief threat to U.S. interests, U.S. allies, and stability in the Middle East. Economic sanctions have . . . severely undermined Iran’s state-dominated economy, [but] Washington also needs to maintain strong military forces in the region to deter Iranian aggression and work with its allies to strengthen missile defenses to offset the potential threat of Iran’s arsenal of ballistic missiles, the largest in the Middle East.
[In addition], U.S. intelligence, reconnaissance, and air-strike capabilities are still needed to aid Iraqi and local Syrian forces against Islamic State (IS). Washington also should press the Iraqi government to fight corruption and be more respectful of the needs of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority to convince them they are better off supporting the government rather than IS. . . .
[Concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict], the time is not ripe for a comprehensive peace settlement. . . . Washington should revert to an incremental, long-term approach to peace negotiations, based on the realistic assessment that a genuine peace is not possible until Hamas has been squeezed out of power in Gaza. Two pillars should undergird the U.S. approach: strong support for Israel, and credible, effective means to advance good governance in Gaza and the West Bank. Until that has happened, Washington should try to manage the consequences of the . . . conflict, rather than rush to failure on a comprehensive settlement. It is never too late for peace. The United States should continue to lay the groundwork, even if it is years in the making.