Washington’s Policy of Selective Blindness in the Middle East

cc NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, modified, Flickr, Operation Enduring Freedom

A cardinal tenet of realpolitik advises against allowing a minor ally to precipitate a major conflict. Presently, from the perspective of the US security framework, we are observing a disintegration at the very core of what might be termed the emergent US order on a macro scale. This deterioration originates from the most fundamental element — the ideological and normative integrity of the United States — which, in turn, is undermining the other pillars of this security edifice.

Concurrently, a series of pivotal events have effectively eroded US dominance as the architect and guardian of Western security interests in the Middle East. Foremost among these was Washington’s unilateral exit from the nuclear accord with Iran, a move that underscored a willingness to forsake treaty commitments — even at the cost of alienating European allies — in favor of aligning with Tel Aviv’s stance. Israel, a staunch critic of the Iran nuclear deal, not only influenced the US decision to retract its participation but also indirectly precipitated the weakening of the nuclear non-proliferation framework within the region, leading to an escalation of armament among neighboring states. This development not only disrupted the detente with Iran and efforts to normalize the conduct of the Islamic Republic but also, through disproportionate pressure and overt antagonism from the White House, signaled the end of moderate governance in Iran, ceding power to factions disinclined to seek US mediation at the negotiation table. The collapse of over nine rounds of nuclear discussions between Iran and the 5+1 group has laid bare the erosion of American trustworthiness as a diplomatic currency, effectively diminishing the prospects for a consensual resolution.

The subsequent phase of this misguided policy manifested in the hasty and ignominious retreat from Afghanistan, ceding control to erstwhile adversaries now deemed allies. The United States’ engagement in talks with the Taliban, sidelining the legitimate Afghan government, marked a radical departure from its professed commitment to uphold international law and established diplomatic protocols. This unprecedented move of negotiating directly with an insurgent faction—effectively entrusting the destiny of nearly 30 million people to extremist factions—has not only halted Afghanistan’s progress but also risks inciting fresh conflicts within Central and South Asia. This act alone casts doubt on America’s fidelity to human rights and its endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, once a cornerstone of its Wilsonian ethos. Moreover, it signifies a departure from international norms that previously enabled the United States to exert influence over its rivals. Collectively, these actions have undermined the very foundation of the US-led order, namely, the enforcement of fundamental human rights, as enshrined in international charters, and ensuring the accountability of transgressors.

The third scenario, serving as a culmination of the aforementioned issues, is the protracted conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Now in its ninth month, the conflict has tragically claimed over thirty thousand lives, predominantly civilians, leaving scarcely any infrastructure, homes, or roads intact amid widespread bombing. The ramifications of this war have extended beyond Israel’s frontiers, ensnaring Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran in its wake. The United States’ thrice-exercised veto power against Security Council resolutions calling for an end to the Gaza conflict, coupled with its logistical and political backing of Israeli operations, indicates a shift from its historical role as a global peace broker capable of terminating hostilities and shaping new security paradigms to a befuddled state ensnared by the hardline policies of its ally. Washington’s involvement has been largely limited to arms provision to Israel, missile defense, and unwavering diplomatic-political-military support for Tel Aviv—roles that suggest support rather than leadership.

Amidst escalating tensions between Iran and Israel, the Middle East stands on the precipice of one of its most severe conflicts in recent history. Meanwhile, there looms the possibility of the United States is being drawn into a second front, post-Ukraine, in the Middle East—a scenario potentially as detrimental, if not more, to Washington than the conflict with Russia. This war has already paralyzed critical regional trade routes, from Bab al-Mandab to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, and threatens to render the Strait of Hormuz another casualty among international waterways.

Washington’s influence over global martial and diplomatic resolutions has diminished, increasingly overshadowed by its principal ally, Israel. This ally now assumes a more assertive role, dictating terms and wielding threats on behalf of its benefactor. This is while the United States finds itself transitioning from the role of an enforcer of treaty compliance and human rights advocacy to a subject of scrutiny within the international arena. The dependency syndrome that has long plagued Europe — once seen as a byproduct of reliance on American hegemony — is now threatening to incapacitate the United States itself, potentially dismantling the very tenets of its own post-Cold War security framework, one after another.


The views expressed in this article belong to the author(s) alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Geopoliticalmonitor.com.

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