Western imposition of the nation-state on much of the Middle East has created artificial states but not true nations. Because a sectarian and tribal sense of belonging is the Middle Eastern norm, these states have never developed national identities. Naturally, the predominantly Shia Iraqi Army saw no benefit in fighting against the Islamic State to protect the Sunni city of Mosul. Likewise, the predominantly Pashtun Afghan National Army also saw no use in fighting against their brethren the Pashtun Taliban.
The failure of Washington to see realities on the ground cost the lives of more than seven thousand U.S. service members in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than $6 trillion dollars of American taxpayer money since 2001. Having been financially and emotionally depleted over the last twenty years in the Middle East, the United States under Biden is now turning its attention toward China. It has yet to be seen if the policymakers in Washington are able to read the realities on the ground in the Pacific better than they read the realities on the ground in the Middle East.
Ali Demirdas, Ph.D. in political science from the University of South Carolina, Fulbright scholar, professor of international affairs at the College of Charleston (2011-2018). You can follow him on Twitter @DrDemirdasEn.