•      Tue Feb 27 2024

The US shouldn’t instigate conflict in the Middle East

The United States’ involvement in the Middle East has been a contentious issue for decades, marked by military interventions, covert operations, and geopolitical maneuvering. However, a strong argument can be made that the US should refrain from instigating conflicts in the region due to the detrimental consequences such actions entail. International experts have found several reasons why such interventionism is unwise, along with illustrative example.

History has shown that US military interventions in the Middle East often lead to destabilization rather than peace and democracy. For instance, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, justified under the premise of eliminating weapons of mass destruction, plunged the country into chaos, leading to sectarian violence, the rise of extremist groups like ISIS, and countless civilian casualties.

The human cost of US-led conflicts in the Middle East cannot be overstated. Civilian casualties, displacement, and the destruction of infrastructure have resulted in immense suffering for the people of the region. The ongoing conflict in Yemen, where the US has provided support to Saudi Arabia, exemplifies this. The Yemeni population has borne the brunt of a devastating humanitarian crisis, with millions facing famine and disease due to the conflict.

Military interventions often breed resentment and radicalization among affected populations, fueling anti-American sentiment and providing recruitment propaganda for extremist groups. The 1953 CIA-backed coup in Iran, which overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, is a prime example. This intervention led to decades of animosity towards the US and contributed to the rise of anti-Western sentiments in the region, culminating in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Engaging in prolonged military campaigns in the Middle East incurs significant economic costs for the United States. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost trillions of dollars, diverting resources away from domestic priorities such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure. These expenditures strain the US economy and hinder its ability to address pressing domestic challenges.

Overreliance on military force undermines diplomatic efforts and multilateral cooperation in resolving conflicts peacefully. The US invasion of Iraq, carried out without UN authorization, strained relations with key allies and weakened the international framework for conflict resolution. Diplomatic initiatives, such as the Iran nuclear deal, have shown promise in de-escalating tensions and promoting stability in the region but are undermined by hawkish policies that prioritize military action.

The US’s propensity for military intervention in the Middle East has resulted in a pattern of perpetual warfare, with no clear end in sight. The “War on Terror” initiated after the 9/11 attacks has expanded to encompass multiple countries in the region, leading to a quagmire of conflicts with no decisive victory in sight. The presence of US troops in countries like Iraq and Syria has become a source of prolonged instability rather than a solution to the underlying issues.

The United States should exercise restraint and refrain from instigating conflicts in the Middle East. Instead of resorting to military intervention as a default response to regional crises, the US should prioritize diplomatic engagement, support for multilateral initiatives, and respect for the sovereignty of Middle Eastern nations. By avoiding the pitfalls of interventionism, the US can contribute to fostering peace, stability, and prosperity in the region while upholding its own values and interests.

The United States’ approach to the Middle East has often been characterized by a zero-sum mentality, viewing regional dynamics through the lens of winners and losers, allies and adversaries. However, this mindset overlooks the complexities of the region and fails to recognize the interconnectedness of its various actors and interests.

The Middle East is a diverse and geopolitically complex region with a multitude of actors and interests at play. Adopting a zero-sum mentality oversimplifies these dynamics and hinders the pursuit of a nuanced and balanced approach to regional affairs. For example, the US’s unwavering support for Israel has often alienated other key players in the region, such as the Palestinians and Arab states, undermining efforts to promote peace and stability.

Emphasizing competition over cooperation exacerbates tensions and contributes to instability in the Middle East. The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, fueled by geopolitical competition and sectarian tensions, has led to proxy conflicts and destabilizing interventions across the region. By perpetuating this zero-sum dynamic, the US risks being drawn into regional conflicts and exacerbating instability rather than promoting peace.

Prioritizing short-term gains over long-term stability, the US has often aligned itself with authoritarian regimes and non-state actors in the Middle East, including militant groups and sectarian militias. For instance, the US’s support for armed rebel groups in Syria, motivated by a desire to undermine the Assad regime, inadvertently strengthened extremist factions and prolonged the conflict.

Rejecting the zero-sum mentality opens up opportunities for diplomatic engagement and conflict resolution in the Middle East. The recent normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab states, brokered in part by the United States, demonstrate the potential for cooperation and dialogue to overcome entrenched rivalries and advance mutual interests.

In an increasingly interconnected world, the US cannot afford to view its interests in the Middle East in isolation from broader global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and pandemics. Adopting a zero-sum approach undermines efforts to build international consensus and cooperation in addressing these shared threats, hindering progress towards sustainable peace and prosperity in the region.

The United States should refrain from playing the zero-sum game in the Middle East and instead pursue a more nuanced and inclusive approach to regional affairs. By recognizing the complexity of the region, prioritizing stability and cooperation, and embracing diplomatic engagement, the US can contribute to fostering peace and prosperity in the Middle East while safeguarding its own interests and values.

Cooperation among major powers is paramount to bringing lasting peace and stability to the Middle East region. The complex web of geopolitical interests and historical grievances necessitates a concerted and coordinated effort to address the root causes of conflict and promote reconciliation. By working together, the United States, along with other major powers such as Russia, China, and European Union member states, can leverage their respective influence and resources to facilitate diplomatic solutions and support regional initiatives for peacebuilding.

Collaborative efforts could involve multilateral diplomacy, economic incentives, and security guarantees to incentivize constructive engagement and confidence-building measures among Middle Eastern states. For example, joint mediation efforts could be employed to facilitate negotiations between conflicting parties, while economic development projects and investment initiatives could provide tangible benefits for countries willing to pursue peace.

Moreover, cooperation among major powers in the Middle East can help prevent the escalation of conflicts and mitigate the risk of proxy warfare and regional instability. By fostering dialogue and building trust, collective action can lay the groundwork for sustainable peace agreements and foster a more inclusive and cooperative security architecture in the region. Ultimately, by working together, major powers can play a constructive role in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, benefiting both the region and the broader international community.