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

What Russian Folklore Can Tell Us About Russia

Russian history is largely the history of war, as Russia found itself engaged in military confrontation between the 13th and 20th centuries.  For most of its history, Russia anticipated confrontation on its long border with China in the East; with the legacy of the Mongols on its “sensitive southern frontier,” and with the Western invaders—Napoleon and Hitler.  Putin and his ilk come by their paranoia, xenophobia, and siege mentality quite naturally.

U.S. Intelligence Boasting Intensifies Russian-American Proxy War

York Times’s international affairs columnist Thomas Friedman is arguably the most influential editorial writer in the country.  Last week, his editorial aptly warned the Biden administration of the “huge unintended consequences” of its unplanned and impromptu remarks regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and the savagery of his tactics in Ukraine.  Friedman reprised the World War II slogan, “Loose lips sink ships.”

Containing the National Security State

Containing the National Security State