JANUARY 31, 2017 |
Some of the most significant challenges the Trump administration will face are in the Middle East. These include the threat of salafi-Jihadist terrorism, Iran’s efforts to create a “Shiite crescent” spanning the region, and a resurgent Russian role. In the Middle East, President Donald Trump, like his last five predecessors, will be a wartime president—whether he wants to or not.
Many consider the results of America’s military engagement in the broader Middle East over the past four decades to be incommensurate to the nation’s sacrifice. Particularly since 9/11, many Americans have grown frustrated with their nation’s involvement in the Middle East’s “forever wars.”
Yet, the United States still has vital interests in the region that require it to remain engaged there. These interests have changed little over 40 years and include: combating extremist terror; preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction; facilitating the export of oil—upon which global oil prices and the economies of America’s major trade partners are dependent; and ensuring the security of key partners and allies.
Moreover, the United States has learned in recent years that what happens in the Middle East doesn’t stay in the Middle East. This export of the region’s systemic problems can have significant implications for vital American interests.