“Unless American leaders begin accepting limits on what pure military force can achieve (without becoming doves), and more fundamentally, inherent limitations on their power to conduct war, then a sound strategy will never be crafted in war. Rather, we will continue to “do stuff.” Action will be conflated with accomplishment. And, threats will never be mitigated. Instead, they will simply multiply–even as we increase our expenditures and commitments to the conflict.”
“The United States will never enjoy being the regional hegemon again in the Middle East. Even so, it need not abandon completely its position there. Instead, the United States must empower fully its regional allies—Israel especially—and continue putting pressure on Russia to restrain its Iranian proxy. Thus, a favorable balance of power can be created between two external powers (the United States and Russia) and their regional proxies. This is the only way one can create stability in the unstable Middle East today.”
“For the United States, it needs to not only temper its expectations (and therefore slow down the tempo of its intervention in the region generally, but specifically in Syria), and start focusing on larger geopolitical concerns. Obviously, the United States cannot (and should not) simply abandon the region, as many on the Far Right insist. But, we must be willing to give greater levels of support–and responsibility–to our local allies. That is our only hope for not breaking the American military in the quicksand of Mideast politics (which we presently are in danger of doing).”
“American war planners in the Trump Administration must, therefore, opt to hit Assad’s air force, but to leave him enough capabilities that he has a reasonable chance at stemming the jihadist surge that will inevitably come from the American air campaign. Trump must also use the 2,200 American troops in Syria as a bargaining chip to get Russia and Turkey to pull both Iran and Assad himself back from the hostilities, and help to create a negotiated settlement that not only ended the conflict, but helped to establish a more stable political environment in Syria.”
“This show of solidarity between the United States and Israel was the best thing that could have been done after recent developments in the Middle East. Although, there are no guarantees. But, all that the United States can do is to effectively dance with the ones who brought them: the Israelis and the Arabs. And, as Netanyahu remarked following his meeting with Trump today, the Arabs are closer with Israel than ever before–they are united by understandable fears of a rising Iranian hegemony in the region.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran wants nuclear weapons to solidify its growing regional hegemony in the Middle East. Such an event will destabilize the already precarious regional order. The Trump Administration is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear arms at all costs–even potentially risking war with the Islamic Republic. If conflict with Iran were to erupt, Iran’s long-time strategic partner, the Russian Federation, would disproportionately benefit.”
Don’t worry about the new Russo-Saudi alliance. It actually might be a net positive for the United States in the long-run.
“Face it, the EU is disintegrating and NATO no longer has the kind of cachet or relevance it once had. It is time for a new security paradigm on the continent, one that is led by the Europeans and conducted at the sub-regional level.
The West blew it with Turkey and now Turkey is going to make the West pay–at a time when the West can ill-afford such burdensome costs. “
“I’d say buy oil stocks now because in the next several months, things are likely to ratchet up in the Middle East. If the Qatari imbroglio is resolved in Saudi Arabia’s favor (it is likely to, especially now that Qatar is reaching out to Israel), then it is quite likely that the Trump Administration will abrogate the former Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Once that happens, it will only be a matter of time before there is greater regional conflict.”
“The cynics insist that America’s race against the Russo-Iranian alliance for control over Deir ez-Zor is “about oil.” Not so. Yes, Dear ez-Zor has a great deal of oil in the sands beneath it, but the U.S. objective is geopolitical: we want to stop Iran from expanding its control over the Shia crescent. Denying Iran control over the ancient caravan routes is vital to keeping Iran contained and preventing Iranian hegemony in the region.”