As it gears up for an era of “intense competition” focused on China and Russia, the Biden administration echoes the architects of the post-Cold War era: “Trust us, we know what we are doing.” Neither administration leaders nor members of the broader national security apparatus have shown any inclination to reflect on how the United States squandered the advantages it had accrued when the Cold War ended.
Responding to the surprise Hamas assault on Israel, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan observed that “we have to prepare for every possible contingency.” For the Biden administration, Sullivan’s assurances have translated into reinforcing the American military presence in the region by dispatching two carrier battle groups into the eastern Mediterranean.
Without any consideration of what past US military actions in the Middle East have accomplished and at what cost, the US signals that it is ready to fight some more. Yet other nations in the region, friend and foe alike, appear to be less than impressed with American saber-rattling. The Biden administration has made its support for Israel abundantly clear. Beyond that, what the US hopes to achieve in the region remains obscure. Hastily planned presidential visits have only revealed the White House’s confusion even as it sounds a cocksure tone.
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