A Precipitous American Retreat from the Middle East Will Only Lead to More War

Nov. 26 2019

While defenders of a U.S. withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan claim that doing so is the only alternative to fighting “endless wars,” Paul Wolfowitz argues that retreat is in fact a recipe for the opposite—as evidenced by a recent Defense Department report that Islamic State (IS) is already regrouping in areas of Syria abandoned by American forces. Yet the alternatives need not require large investments of American blood and treasure:

Abandoning allies who have advanced American interests while fighting courageously for their own is not a formula for avoiding another large-scale United States military engagement in the Middle East, but rather for ending up in another one. Next time, however, will be without the local allies we need.

The way to protect our critical interests in the Middle East while minimizing costs and risks for the United States is by supporting people who, while fighting for their own interests, also protect America’s.

The eight blood-soaked years that the Assad regime has remained in power may have cost more than half a million Syrian lives and have created hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people. That humanitarian disaster also produced the strategic vacuum from which Islamic State emerged in northern Syria to invade and destabilize Iraq, forcing then-President Obama to return the troops he had withdrawn just a few years earlier. Now with President Trump building on that earlier failure, Russia and Iran may gain effective control of Syria.

Donald Trump [now has] an opportunity not to undo his decision—he has unfortunately already created a new and much more complicated situation—but to revise it and continue some support for our Kurdish and Arab allies so that they can achieve a reasonable negotiated settlement. The goal of a revised operation should be made clear: it is not to seize Syria’s oil, as President Trump has suggested, but rather to keep that strategic asset out of the hands of our enemies.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Donald Trump, Islamic State, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy

The Palestinian Prime Minister Rails against Peace at the Council of Foreign Relations

On November 17, the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, appeared at the Council on Foreign Relations, America’s most prestigious and influential foreign-policy institution. While there, Shtayyeh took the opportunity to lambast Arab states for making peace with Israel. Dore Gold comments:

[Perhaps Shtayyeh] would prefer that Bahrain, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates declare the end of their conflicts with Israel only after all Palestinian political demands are met; however, he refused to recognize that Arab states have a right to defend their vital interests.

Since 1948, they had suspended these rights for the sake of the Palestinian cause. What Shtayyeh ultimately wants is for the Palestinians to continue to hold their past veto power over the Arab world. Essentially, he wants the Arabs to be [like the] Iranians, who supply Palestinian organizations like Hamas with weapons and money while taking the most extreme positions against peace. What the Arabs have begun to say this year is that this option is no longer on the table.

Frankly, the cracks in the Palestinian veto of peace that appeared in 2020 are undeniable. Shtayyeh is unprepared to answer why. The story of that split began with the fact that the response of the Palestinian leadership to every proposal for peace since the 2000 Camp David Summit with President Clinton has been a loud but consistent “No.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, U.S. Foreign policy