Changing Roles in the Middle East

Remember the good old days of leading from behind? In the Middle East, we aren’t even doing that much. Russian adventurism is replacing American timidity in airstrikes that may or may not hit ISIS terrorists.

The government of the U.S. appears to acquiesce to the change. Actually, the federal government looks like a deer in the headlights. For some strange reason, the Russian move to exert influence over Middle Eastern states has caught the State Department by surprise. If they are not surprised, they are doing a fine job of pretending that they are morons.

Maybe it isn’t pretending. Maybe the people who run our government are that naïve about how hesitation in the face of situations that require immediate action signals our opponents, and allies, that this country has lost the will to fulfill the responsibilities that administration after administration have deemed critical for our national interest in the region.

We have already ceded the leadership of any coalition of states in the Middle East to other nations. Russia and Iran have both benefited from American hesitation. Iran benefited from the worthless nuclear treaty, as well, but the treaty is more evidence that our government wants to be rid of Middle Eastern problems.

Middle EastI ran across a quote in the Wall Street Journal the other day that triggered this thinking. Jeremy Shapiro, formerly of the Obama State Department and currently a member of the Brookings Institute, said, “The difference is not whether you have peace, it’s whether Americans are involved in the lack of peace.”


Shapiro was talking about our current role in Syria and believes that a peace imposed by the military of Russia would be preferable to a peace imposed by the U.S. Although it is a persuasive argument – peace is a good thing, after all – a Russian peace would mean propping up Syria’s President Assad and using the military to crush his opponents. Funny, I remember some red lines and the initial reasons we were involved in Syria had a lot to do with Assad crushing his opponents.

Untangling our frequently contradictory positions in the Middle East would be to our advantage. Identifying our friends and helping them, while simultaneously ensuring our opponents cannot capitalize on our actions is a sensible and laudatory goal. Allowing another country to push us to the side while damaging our assets in the region is self-destructive.

The damage is already done, however. No country in the world fears the might of the United States. They are well aware that the current crop of politicians and bureaucrats are too busy covering their asses and worrying about their legacies to actually do the right thing.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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