“Everybody who has touched the Middle East has gotten bogged down.” Candidate Donald Trump rightly pointed this out in October 2015 as he laid out his vision for a foreign policy that would end America’s forever wars and extract America from its Mideast quagmires. Trump not only tapped into public anger toward Washington’s indifference to the American people’s pain and suffering, but he also pointed to America’s indisputable interest in ending misguided foreign adventures and refocus on domestic needs. President Trump, however, speaks of leaving the region while doing precious little about it. Nowhere has his policy contradicted his promise to get out of the Middle East more than his maximum pressure strategy on Iran.
“Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years,” Trump complained in his State of the Union address in February 2019. “In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East… As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.”
On this, Trump is right. The United States has spent trillions of dollars maintaining military dominance in the Middle East while often fighting other countries’ wars for them. It has done so in the name of establishing stability in the region and security for America. Neither of those objectives has been achieved. U.S. interventions in the Middle East have destabilized the region while incentivizing U.S. allies to forego regional diplomacy and instead spend lobbying dollars in Washington to convince the United States to fight their wars for them. In the meantime, the trillions of dollars spent on weapons systems have left the American people naked and vulnerable to far more likely non-military threats such as COVID-19.
Read the full article here in RealClear Defense.