U.S. policy in the Middle East: What went wrong and how to fix it

Kenneth M. Pollack testified this afternoon before the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. In his prepared remarks, Pollack explains that although the United States is not entirely to blame for the current dismal state of affairs in the region, the fact is that over the past 30-40 years, successive U.S. administrations have favored short-term solutions to crises in the region over long-term strategic planning; the result is that numerous opportunities to help move the region in a better direction have been squandered. 

Pollack argues that the current turmoil in the Middle East is the product of two concurrent forces: the breakdown of the internal order established after World War II and the withdrawal of the Middle East’s “traditional great power hegemon”—that is, the United States.  Washington disengaged from the region at the same time that the dysfunctional dictatorships that had come to power in the post-WWII era collapsed, creating a power and security vacuum into which the forces of extremism and chaos eagerly stepped.   

In order to begin moving down the path toward stability in the Middle East, Pollack asserts that the United States must resist the temptation to pursue short-term solutions and instead begin to think strategically about the United States’ long-term interests in the region and the policies that can be implemented to help guarantee those interests in a way that will last beyond just the next conflagration.

Read Kenneth Pollack’s prepared testimony and watch video of the hearing here