Grand strategy, Middle East

Past Virtual Event: Does the Middle East still matter?

The Middle East is back at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy discourse. The war in Gaza has escalated to entangle U.S. forces. Continual attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq, Syria, and across the border in Jordan increased due to events in Gaza, injured scores of servicemembers, and now killed three soldiers. Repeated U.S. strikes on militias launching these attacks to "restore deterrence" have evidently failed. The U.S. launched an air campaign against Houthi targets in an ineffective effort to stop its attacks on shipping, which are done in the name of defending Gaza. The failure of the efforts to protect shipping and U.S. forces has created mounting pressure for direct war with Iran.

But what is actually at stake for the United States in the Middle East today? Would a war with Iran simply be a large war to protect a smaller and pointless one in Syria, Iraq, or Yemen? What interests justify the presence of 46,000 U.S. forces so far from home, along with these new strikes and their attendant risks? As a net exporter of oil today, is protecting Persian Gulf oil still a priority for the United States? Are U.S. forces there usefully combating terrorists? Is military force the best way to accomplish U.S. objectives in this region, and if so does it need to be based there?

Event Speakers


Public Policy Manager & Fellow

Defense Priorities


Senior Fellow, Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy Program

Stimson Center


Director of Middle East Engagement

Defense Priorities