America needs to preserve its presence in the Middle East and resist urges that call for complete (or even substantial) disengagement. Not only does a valid and necessary security mission still exist in the region to protect American citizens, sovereignty, and interests, but such a mission represents the best use of military forces even (and especially) in the face of GPC threats which, in competition short of war, require other elements of national power to assume a leading role. The American military presence in the Middle East keeps America safe while preserving American military advantages in GPC by honing, testing, and innovating combat skills and experience at a time when rival GPC nations do not have such experience to guide the formation and development of their modern militaries. Critically, as portions of the Middle East itself show signs of fundamental changes embracing Western initiatives and transforming to adopt Western economic and security methods, American disengagement risks defeating generations of U.S. investment that, more than ever, seem capable of delivering the type of successes that will forge the regional alliances in the Middle East necessary as a critical bulwark against GPC threats in the twenty-first century.
Scott J. Harr is an Army Special Forces Officer and Ph.D. Candidate at the Helms School of Government, Liberty University. He holds an undergraduate degree in Arabic Language Studies from West Point and a Master's degree in Middle Eastern Affairs from Liberty University. With over four years of cumulative deployment time around the world, his work has been featured in The Diplomat, RealClearDefense, The Strategy Bridge, Modern War Institute, Military Review, and Joint Force Quarterly. The opinions here are solely those of the author and do not represent those of any official U.S. organization or entity.