U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East and Implications for the Army

by Karl P. Mueller, Becca Wasser, Jeffrey Martini, Stephen Watts

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Regional instability and conflict have often frustrated U.S. leaders' aspirations to pivot away from the burdens of military operations in the Middle East in order to shift resources to other parts of the world. As the U.S. Army looks across the Middle East and North Africa in 2018, it can anticipate and should be prepared for its current involvement there to extend into the future.

There is little prospect that American military actions can resolve fundamental problems in the Middle East beyond the destruction of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL's) would-be caliphate. However, regional conflicts, plotting by ISIL and al-Qa'ida from safe havens, or U.S. partners embroiling themselves in military operations that turn out to imperil their own security could cause the U.S. president to consider options for intervention. Therefore, it will be crucial for Army leaders to be able to play a leadership role in future deliberations about the role of U.S. military power in the region, and the Army will need to prepare and posture its forces so as to be able to deal with such contingencies when necessary.

This perspective examines threats to U.S. interests in the Middle East and factors associated with success and failure in U.S. military interventions, and offers recommendations for the Army as it prepares for future involvement in the region.

This research was sponsored by the United States Army, and conducted within the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, of the RAND Arroyo Center.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.