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Ilan Goldenberg @ilangoldenberg
, 17 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
1 We’re about to make the exact same mistake in the Middle East that we’ve been making again and again for the past 20 years.…
2. for the past 20 years our policy in the Mideast has resembled a yo-yo diet. We declare we are leaving. We shed a lot. Too much. It’s unhealthy and we are vulnerable
3. Then something bad happens and we get drawn back in and binge. We get too heavy and decide we need to diet again. But again we overdo it, leave ourselves vulnerable, something bad happens, get drawn back in.
4. Obama tried to leave. He campaigned on withdrawing from Iraq & did. He pushed the rebalance to Asia. But our departure created an opportunity for ISIS pulled him back in
5. Bush campaigned on moving back to realism and stop worrying about unimportant failed states & secondary conflicts. He famously did not even hold a PC on terrorism in the early months
6. Then 9/11 caused him to do just the opposite & define his presidency dealing with this problem.
7. Now Trump is going to do the same thing if he pulls out of Syria. Try to escape the Middle East in a way that doesn’t make sense & as a result just get drawn back in
8. ISIS/AQ or some successor will reconstitute, bad things will start happening in Europe and the United States, the American public will demand action to keep it safe, & we will get drawn back in.
9. Still, it’s true that we are over-invested in the Middle East. The question is how to get out of the yo-yo and instead pursue a healthy sustainable approach that brings our relationship into balance
10. This requires some serious rethinking. But here are some suggestions.
11. We should accept that we cannot end the civil wars & security vacuums in the Middle East. But with a limited number of troops (a couple of thousand) we can contain/manage the problem and prevent the worst outcomes as we have with the counter ISIS campaign.
12. Most importantly we can limit terrorism & mass refugee flows from crossing into other parts of the Mideast and more importantly Europe
13. This is a critical US interest. These factors played a central role in the rise of nativist right wing parties in Europe & events such Brexit. They’ve significantly weakened the Western alliance.
14. We also need to shift how our force is constructed to recognize we’re going to stick around in the Mideast for a long time. But we are going to do it cheaper, smaller and more sustainable
15. For example, It can’t just be a small group of Special Forces doing these missions again and again. And DOD has started to build out a more permanent advisory capacity that can deal with this problem
16. we need to shift our procurement strategy. We don’t need F-22s or F-35s taking out 3 dudes in a truck driving from Mosul to Raqqa. That is an incredible waste of resources. We need cheaper weapons to deal with the Middle East & save the more expensive ones for Russia & China
17. Alas, feels like we may not do any of this. And instead just repeat the mistakes of the past. Pull back too far. Leave ourselves vulnerable and get drawn back in.
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