The United States’s obsession of the Middle East

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent Gulf War between the United States and the Saddam Hussain led Iraq. United States involvement in the Middle East became very prevalent. This increased military presence in the Middle East, along with the instability of many middle eastern nations led to many terrorist groups forming throughout the 1990s. One of these groups, Al Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden would directly attack the United States on September 11th of 2001 with the plane hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center, along with damaging the pentagon and a failed attempt to destroy the US capitol building. But how did the United States become heavily involved in the Middle East?

Andrew Bacevich argues in “The Crisis of Profligacy” that the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East is driven primarily by a desire to maintain access to the region’s oil resources and to protect Israel, rather than by a genuine concern for combating terrorism. Bacevich argues that the U.S. government has been willing to support authoritarian regimes in the Middle East as long as they are friendly to American interests, and that the U.S. military presence in the region has served to secure the flow of oil and to project American power. He argues that the U.S. government’s support for Israel has contributed to the destabilization of the region and has made it harder for the U.S. to achieve its goals in the Middle East.

Bacevich argues that there is a deep connection between the idea of freedom at home and the pursuit of empire abroad in American politics. He describes this connection as the “myth of American exceptionalism,” which states that the United States is a unique and virtuous nation with a special mission to spread its values and way of life around the world. This myth has been used to justify both the expansion of American power abroad and the erosion of civil liberties and democratic norms at home. The pursuit of empire abroad requires a strong and centralized government with extensive powers, which can also be used to restrict individual freedoms in the name of national security. Furthermore, the vast resources required to maintain an empire abroad divert attention and resources away from domestic needs and priorities, leading to a decline in social welfare programs and public infrastructure. This, in turn, can lead to growing inequality and social unrest, which can be suppressed by a government that justifies its authoritarianist measures as necessary to protect the nation from external threats.

Bacevich believes that the U.S. military has become an institution that is detached from society and is primarily focused on maintaining its own existence, rather than serving the country’s best interests. To get out of these “forever wars,” Bacevich suggests that the U.S. needs to engage in a radical reassessment of its foreign policy. This reassessment should involve a return to realism and a focus on diplomacy and strategic restraint, rather than military intervention. The U.S. also needs to reduce its military presence overseas and invest in the country’s domestic needs, such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare. He believes that the American people need to become more engaged in the political process and demand that their leaders prioritize the country’s needs over the interests of the military-industrial complex.

2 thoughts on “The United States’s obsession of the Middle East

  1. Great post. I think you made a great point about how the United States might need to reassess its foreign policy especially when it comes to their involvement in the Middle East. I think the United States does cover up its reasons for staying in the Middle East, especially it comes to saying they are fighting against terrorism. That would seem like a great reason to stay involved to help protect people, but the major reason is still oil and access to oil.


  2. It is true that the US involvement in the Middle East have other strategic purposes than the containment of terrorist and extremist goups. You also pointed out that the heavy presence of US military overseas is not a reflection of its power abroad, more than its restricting individual liberties within the US itself. I also agree that resolving the issue can only be done if the US government focuses on the negative effects of these long-lasting conflicts on its own citizens.


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