Whither Western Influence in the Middle East: The Folly of Developing Military Strategy Absent Collective Policy in the Gulf Region

Patuxent Defense Forum Presentation; St. Mary’s College of Maryland, April 30, 2014 It is really wonderful to be back at St Mary’s. I’ve been to many conferences and campuses, but this place is a tremendous melding of academic rigor, wonderful scenery, and American history. Thank you, Dr. Cain, and your staff, for putting this forum together again. This Year’s Forum poses two particularly interesting questions for NATO to consider: How can the U.S. help foster regional security while pursuing diplomacy aimed at encouraging democratic practices? and Are these diplomatic and military goals at odds or can they be reconciled through new defense policies? These questions afford us participants an opportunity to discuss and seriously consider several difficult issues which are usually discussed in hushed tones behind secure doors, but rarely, if ever, in public fora. Unfortunately for the United States and perhaps for the Middle East as a whole, these issues will likely only remain discussed here and in selected hallways. Without a deliberate, rational and open discussion within and between NATO capitals about political goals in the Gulf region, it will be impossible for NATO, in general, and the US specifically, to develop any meaningful military strategy to encourage democratic practices or stability in the Middle East. And even if that debate is had and some goals are found to agree upon, there is no reason to believe that the change in Gulf states could proceed more rapidly than the change which occurred in the former Warsaw Pact countries now in NATO, if at all. […]