The Truth About Intervening Powers in the Middle East

What would the Middle East be without a bogeyman? For decades, U.S. foreign policy has centered on the idea that the lion’s share of the region’s ailments is caused by a single rogue actor who invariably is aligned against the U.S. 

Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi played the role of the “mad dog of the Middle East” in the 1980s. Saddam Hussein was the bogeyman of the 1990s. For the last two decades, the Iranian theocracy has been bestowed the title “the region’s foremost malign actor.” According to the head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Iran’s alleged “pursuit of regional hegemony [is] … the greatest source of instability across the Middle East.” 

Despite its cartoonish simplicity, or perhaps because of it, this notion has enjoyed baffling longevity in Washington. But it has not served the U.S.—or the region—well, because it is as inaccurate as it is simplistic.

Reviewing all of the region’s military interventions between 2010 and 2020, our research shows that several powerful states in the region intervene militarily in the affairs of their neighbors to roughly the same degree, defying the idea that the region’s instability can be blamed on a single pariah state.

Read the full article on The American Prospect