PEJOURNAL – The Quincy think tank said in a report that the current US hegemonic presence in the West Asian region has not only undermined its interests but also reduced its ability to counter threats.
Quincy think tank experts report on US macro-foreign policy in West Asia They believe that the US National Security Agenda expires after 9/11. Today, with a variety of soft and semi-severe threats, including cyber-attacks or deadly viruses such as Corona, the increasing presence of heavy troops around the world is no longer justified by cost-effective calculations and does not serve America’s vital interests. So it is necessary to resort to other methods.
The fight against terrorism failed
The report explains in its introduction that despite spending $ 6.5 trillion, the so-called counter-terrorism strategy has failed. The United States, which has been campaigning in Afghanistan to eliminate al-Qaeda, has relegated its goal of establishing a democratic government and disarming the Taliban to negotiating with the group and leaving the country.
In Iraq, not only is there no talk of liberal democracy and economic growth, but the apparent stability and security of the Ba’athist regime has disappeared and the country has become a hotbed of regional rivalries. Even the country’s territorial integrity has been threatened by efforts to make Kurdistan independent. As for Libya, the state of statelessness is clearer than it needs to be.
The experience of the years after 9/11 shows that the United States does not have to fight all terrorist groups and even all Takfiri groups. The US military presence has not only led to the end of Takfiri terrorism in the region, but has also stimulated the mushrooming of these groups by provoking opposition to the hegemonic regime. In particular, Arab governments purchasing American weapons directly or indirectly provide the same weapons to militant groups in Iraq and Syria, adding to the wave of instability.
The United States, which has been campaigning in Afghanistan to eliminate al-Qaeda, has relegated its goal of establishing a democratic government and disarming the Taliban to negotiating with the group and leaving the country. In Iraq, not only is there no talk of liberal democracy and economic growth, but the apparent stability and security of the Ba’athist regime has disappeared and the country has become a hotbed of regional rivalries.
The error of the counter-terrorism approach in terms of content was that it reduced the fight to removing a few instances from the State Department’s list of terrorist groups. Terrorism, on the other hand, is a tactic to realize the interests of anti-structural and marginalized groups. To deal with it, one must address its context and roots. From a methodological point of view, instead of direct fighting, it should have helped local governments to control them. In this regard, it is necessary to clarify the inaccuracy of several hypotheses:
The first assumption; Terrorism is an existential threat: from 1995 to 2016, only 3,277 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks, up from 2,977 in 9/11. The Pentagon’s total casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq now exceed those of 9/11, and more importantly, more than 125,000 people have died from coronation in recent months. It turns out, then, that not only are counter-terrorism strategies ineffective, but the hypothesis that regional terrorism poses a threat to Americans has also failed.
Second hypothesis; Terrorists have territory: This hypothesis is a justification for the US military presence in West Asia. While the end of ISIS’s territorial rule and the liberation of the so-called “Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant” also failed to end the group’s terrorist operations. Focusing on rapidly changing areas and settlements of terrorist groups prevents attention to better and less costly methods than direct military presence and equipment to deal with terrorists.
Third assumption; Military intervention limits terrorism: Terrorism studies show that the most important goal of suicide operations has been to counter the occupation. The experience of the US military presence in Lebanon in the 1980s is also well illustrated. The growth of al-Qaeda also stemmed from the expansion of US military bases in the Persian Gulf after the Kuwaiti war, which pushed Islamist groups against the United States.
Fourth hypothesis; The fight against terrorism is a war: the military is one of the tools and, incidentally, the most ineffective in the fight against terrorism. Major terrorist activities fail as a result of intelligence and security operations based on tracking and blocking arms and financial flows. George W. Bush’s metaphor of the “war on terror” was a major mistake that led to the US military killing civilians in West Asia.
The authors argue that the main purpose of the US presence in West Asia should be, firstly, to prevent the invasion of US citizens and territory from this region and, secondly, to maintain the security of global trade routes. These two are directly in the national interest of the United States. To achieve these two goals, the United States needs to adopt a comprehensive strategy towards the West Asian region. A strategy that has a unified view of the region and, with the exception of the above two goals, does not prioritize the use of US resources and forces, especially military forces.
Threatening America’s partners and allies is not the same as threatening America. Thus, the concern of oil trade through the Persian Gulf is eliminated. Because the US military presence to protect this route, which began with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, has only added to the bipolarity of the US and its opponents in the region, and has in some ways affected the security of energy transfers from the Persian Gulf. While today, the US need for Persian Gulf oil has also decreased and there is no reason for thousands of US troops to be present in the bases of the Persian Gulf countries.
The main purpose of the US presence in West Asia should be, firstly, to prevent the invasion of US citizens and territory from this region and, secondly, to maintain the security of global trade routes. These two are directly in the national interest of the United States. To achieve these two goals, the United States needs to adopt a comprehensive strategy towards the West Asian region.
New regional security architecture in West Asia
The United States must recognize that West Asia is a region of diverse regional and global power. No government has hegemony in this political geography. The United States has allies, and so does Russia, which has similarities and differences between its allies and rivals. For example, both have favorable relations with Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime. China has also recently sought to expand its regional influence by offering trade and arms advantages.
Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are also the three main powers, none of which has the power to destroy another sphere of influence. The United States must abandon its intention to become the hegemon of the region and come to terms with the multipolar reality of this region. Normally, none of the governments in the region is commensurate with the American liberal-democratic component that the United States seeks to create a dichotomy between right and wrong in order to protect its values.
But this multipolarity leads to anarchy in the absence of a sustainable architecture. Every state will strive to survive on the principle of self-help in neorealism. This convulsion does not serve anyone’s interests and only leads to a waste of resources. The overall approach of the new security architecture is to contain the internal and regional tensions of the major and influential governments of West Asia that support diplomatic approaches.
To this end, the incidence of insecurity and instability must be reduced. In this regard, the concern of the governments of the region to respond to political and economic demands, to avoid provoking Muslim communities with the continued occupation of Western forces, as well as efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue, is important. This requires changes in US policy in West Asia:
First; Eliminate the offensive approach: The United States must refrain from being hostile to regional actors. This approach has led to the uncontrolled expansion of military forces in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere, which has increased the risk of accidental conflict. In this regard, it should avoid interfering in regional competitions. Support for some parties, such as Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime, causes others to jeopardize American interests in ways such as strengthening proxy forces. Thus, in the new security architecture, the feeling of threat from the United States is reduced.
Second; Rising parties: While Russia interacts with major parties to regional rivalries in West Asia, the US ideological approach has led it to limit itself to a few partners. While even with the opposition, we should look for ways to work together. On Iran, a return to the IAEA Board, in addition to limiting its nuclear program, will demonstrate the United States’ commitment to resolving the crisis through diplomacy.
Regarding Iraq, it should not be turned into a field for confrontation with Iran. Rather, the US military withdrawal from the country provides an opportunity for the growth of Arab nationalism to limit Iran’s influence. Regarding Syria, one should refer to multilateral approaches such as the Astana talks. Instead of insisting on changing the Assad regime, the United States must learn how to deal with the influence of other actors, especially Russia, as it did before the civil war.
As for Yemen, it must cut off arms and political support to Saudi Arabia in order to be forced to choose a diplomatic solution. The continuing instability in the country is contributing to the growth of anti-Western terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. This requires entering into dialogue with non-governmental actors and strengthening and rewarding the mediation of countries such as Oman and Kuwait.
Third; Improving Human Rights: US attention to human rights will have a serious impact on meeting some political and social demands and preventing radicalism. This policy should not be implemented selectively. Today, the crimes of the Zionist regime in Gaza and the West Bank, Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood by Egypt not only face punishments such as financial sanctions and weapons, but also enjoy US political support. For this reason, his criticisms of Iran and Syria in this regard are not very credible.
The institutionalization of militarism in American foreign policy has been so long that rivals such as Russia, China, and Iran have based their strategies on it, and a change in this paradigm will force them to reconsider.
Fourth; Regional Security and Cooperation Organization: The current balance in the region is artificial. Because some governments have gained power beyond their real capacity to rely on the United States. The new security architecture of the region must show a real balance. West Asia needs more than one NATO, a regional Security and Cooperation Organization, similar to the European Union or the ASEAN.
The development of a similar organization in this region will take a long time. But we can start with the Persian Gulf and, by concluding a treaty, reduce tensions between Iran and some of its Arab neighbors. He went on to disarm the nuclear powers of all governments and then reduce the missile range to a balanced and comprehensive level.
The United States alone cannot establish this new security architecture. In addition to the cooperation of other permanent members of the Security Council, especially Russia and China, it is necessary to take advantage of the favorable relations of Germany, India and Japan with the governments of West Asia.
The report clearly shows that the US military presence in West Asia and its interference in the internal affairs and regional rivalries of countries in this geopolitical area have not only caused great damage to peace and stability, but also overshadowed US national interests in the interests of some of its regional allies. Today’s instability in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen is a direct result of US intervention.
Although the report’s authors hope to change the US paradigm in the region, militarism in US foreign policy, especially since the Cold War, seems to be so institutionalized that it can be called the law of conservation of foreign troops. This means that the discharged soldiers do not return home, but go from one area to another.
As stated in the US government’s national security strategies in recent years, it has simply stated that attention should be diverted from West Asia to the Pacific. The institutionalization of militarism in American foreign policy has been so long that rivals such as Russia, China, and Iran have based their strategies on it, and a change in this paradigm will force them to reconsider.