Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Why U.S. Middle East Policy Is Failing
- Kenneth M. Pollack & Barbara F. Walter
The murderous jihadists of Islamic State, or ISIS, are only one symptom of a much larger problem in the Middle East. By fixating on this one symptom and then trying to convince everyone else in the region to do the same, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Most Middle Easterners regard ISIS as abhorrent and want to see it obliterated. But ISIS is not the root problem. The real problems of the Middle East stem from the failure of the post-World War II Arab state system, which has produced state collapse, power vacuums and civil wars.
The region's civil wars invariably spawn extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, but they have spread only to states in civil war or on the brink. Even if the U.S. were able to "defeat" or "degrade" ISIS, as long as civil wars burn on in the region, the conditions that led to its emergence would still exist, and new radical groups would simply emerge to replace it. End the civil wars, and the terrorist groups will wither.
Mr. Pollack is a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. Ms. Walter is a professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California San Diego.
(Wall Street Journal)