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

Meet Our New “Secretary Of State”…Nancy Pelosi

In any event, Pelosi’s travel to the world’s worst trouble spots creates significant confusion regarding official U.S. policies and politics.  In flexing the flabby diplomatic muscles of the U.S. Congress, Pelosi is engaging the international community without any obvious coordination with the White House or the Department of State. The notion that anyone from the House of Representatives could have an impact on U.S. foreign policy or diplomacy is particularly ludicrous.  Unfortunately, her trips seemingly amount to a last hurrah.

The Dangerous Civilian-Military Chasm In America

One of the greatest weaknesses of presidential leadership over the past 60 years has been the lack of presidential experience in the military and the inability to control the military.  Several weeks before his seminal Farewell Address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower told his senior advisers in the White House, “God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn’t know the military as well as I do.”  His successors have been deferential to the military and too many of them have used military force to bolster their credentials.  This has been a major factor in the expanded power of the military establishment.

Containing the National Security State

Containing the National Security State