The Politics and Strategy of US Military Intervention in the Middle East

Authored by: Bradley L. Bowman

Handbook of Defence Politics

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9781857434439
eBook ISBN: 9780203804278
Adobe ISBN:


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The essence of strategy lies in the co-ordination of ends and means. If a nation desires to develop and implement a successful grand strategy, knowing what the nation intends to achieve is not enough. The nation must also be intimately familiar with the tools of national power at its disposal. Utilizing the wrong tool will ensure that a nation does not achieve its objectives. The American military is the most powerful, technologically advanced and mobile military force in history. However, because of the lessons America’s enemies have learned from the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War and the 2003–present Iraq War, the American military will be largely ineffective for purposes of regime change, nation building and democratization in the coming years in the wider Middle East. Any future US military invasion, occupation or large-scale ground troop deployment in the region will almost certainly be met quickly by a determined guerrilla-style insurgency led by al-Qaeda and its associated movements or local nationals resenting the presence of foreign troops. Past US experience demonstrates that the American public tends not to support the long-term investment of American blood and treasure required to defeat these insurgencies. This lack of US public support tempts US policy-makers to prematurely withdraw troops, jeopardizing the mission’s objectives and undercutting US credibility and deterrence capability. Therefore, in the future, the US must find a way to protect its substantial interests in the wider Middle East in such a way that minimizes the need for US military invasions, occupations and counterinsurgencies.

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