Home / Articles / Re-Thinking Assumptions for a 21st Century Middle East
American policy in the Middle East is based on outdated assumptions. There are at least four novel elements in or impacting the Middle East that require an adjustment in strategy:
North American Oil Independence: The United States no longer relies on the Middle East for its supply of energy and could choose to act without that significant tie.
Rise of China: The People’s Republic of China is now a near-peer to the United States and is taking steps to protect its own interests in the Middle East.
Diminishing Conventional Threats to Israel: All conceivable regional enemies are now peace signatories, wrestling with internal instability, or both. Unconventional threats continue to challenge Israel’s security, but a ground invasion is now a remote possibility.
Rise of Sub-State Actors: In addition to widely recognized terror and insurgent groups, other actors, such as financial firms, technology firms, and private military firms, interact with power that rivals that of weak states.
These new factors—alone and in concert—make legacy strategies at least suboptimal, if not unsuitable. Today’s Middle East exhibits very different characteristics than that of the Middle East of the past century. An acceptable and suitable strategy must incorporate these new data points.