Goodman letter in NY TIMES

A reader cites the many ways that U.S. policy toward the Middle East has created more problems and terrorists.

Jan. 9, 2020

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

A President’s Mixed Messages Unsettle More Than Reassure” (news analysis, front page, Jan. 9) quotes an Iranian-American strategist who described President Trump’s policy toward the Middle East over the past few months as “strategically incoherent.” In fact, U.S. policy in the region has been incoherent for nearly two decades with the pursuit of policies that have created terrorists faster than they could be eliminated.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, U.S. actions have worsened the stability of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia. Our prolonged stay in Afghanistan has been a strategic nightmare. George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was doomed from the start, targeting the wrong enemy and creating conditions for the current instability throughout the region.

American policies have contributed to metastasizing Al Qaeda into a diffuse global movement and intensified radical militancy in the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the huge costs of the “global war on terror” have compromised our ability to fund key domestic programs.

Mr. Trump’s actions toward Iran will increase the terrorist threat to the United States, creating more tactical opportunities for the Islamic State, and will allow President Vladimir Putin to improve Russia’s relations with both Iran and Iraq.

Finally, Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been revived, and the important co-signers of the 2015 nuclear accord have questioned and challenged the wisdom of U.S. actions.

Melvin A. Goodman
Bethesda, Md.
The writer, a former C.I.A. analyst, is senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 10, 2020, Section A, Page 26 of the New York edition with the headline: In the Mideast, U.S. Foreign Policy Gone Awry. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Recent News and Latest Book

Breaking the Addiction to Secrets and Secrecy

There is no question that the government must protect its sources and methods in the collection of intelligence. Regarding substance, however, I believe that, with the exception of details on weapons systems as well as on sensitive negotiations, there are few legitimate secrets and almost none that must remain classified for more than ten years at most. The secrecy that surrounded the Iran-Contra affair probably saved the Reagan presidency over the short term, but greater transparency would have prevented Iran-Contra from ever getting off the ground in the first place.

Harvard’s Kennedy School: Key Part Of The Military-Industrial Complex

Harvard’s Kennedy School’s denial of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, because of his criticism of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza is only the latest example of the corporate role played by Harvard’s most prestigious think tank on public policy.  Roth, who has spent the last three decades at HRW defending human rights around the world, was offered a senior fellowship at the School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.  It was quickly withdrawn.