Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Religion and Responsible American Engagement of the Middle East

Religion and Responsible American Engagement of the Middle East

The Review of Faith & International Affairs (Summer 2016)

Paradoxically, the 2016 US presidential election has thus far featured frequent affirmations of the importance of foreign policy, yet also an inability of most candidates and pundits to talk about foreign policy meaningfully. Especially with respect to the Middle East, the discourse has consisted largely of rather simple statements about how the next president might use (or not use) the American military in reaction to ISIS. But more drone strikes to kill terrorists, or more US troops to stop ISIS, are not strategies, they are tactics—tactics that are
counterproductive if they are not part of a broader vision and strategy, globally and regionally.

With this understanding, and advised by traditional and non-traditional experts, the next president should focus on the “mega-crisis” in Iraq–Syria through a process that, at every opportunity, explicitly and implicitly affirms and builds the capacity for people to live with their deepest political and theological differences. Put differently, never has a nuanced approach to integrating religious freedom been more needed in American foreign policy.

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