Long-Term Gains Far Outweigh Short-Term Costs from Withdrawing the U.S. Military from the Middle East

By Monica Duffy Toft
Full Article was originally published in Responsible Statecraft

President Donald Trump and his administration came into office promising to stop “endless wars” in the Middle East. But like his predecessors, the president has found himself walking back this important strategic objective. Why? Because he seems to believe the best option for the United States in the Middle East comes down to pain and loss no matter which policy we choose: military withdrawal or continued forward deployment. In choosing the shorter horn of this dilemma, there are two important points to consider.

First, if you think about it, the United States’ primary foreign policy after World War II was to prevent World War III; and given political scientists’ analyses of the causes of WWII, that meant a combination of focus on military forward deployment (in Europe and Japan in particular), and economic stability (no trade wars, and broad investment in global recovery and development in which the United States would bear a disproportionate share of the burden). So in an important sense, “forward deployment” — keeping large numbers of U.S. armed forces stationed abroad — became an unquestioned pillar of U.S. grand strategy and national security. Forward deployment dovetails with what historian and Quincy Institute President Andrew Bacevich, among others, has rightly identified as “American exceptionalism.” But its success depended critically on an adherence to key pillars of U.S. legitimacy: the rule of law, multilateralism, and the use of force as a last resort. READ MORE

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