US can’t easily abandon the Middle East

At a regional security meeting in Bahrain over the weekend, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried emphatically to persuade Middle Eastern allies that the US was just as committed as ever to regional security.

“Let’s be clear,” he declared. “America’s commitment to security in the Middle East is strong and sure.” 

Shadowed by the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, by reductions in US military force numbers in the region and by persistent talk in Washington about a strategic “pivot to Asia,” it was a tough sell.

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