Washington would be wise to engage seriously with the question of whether or not potential (albeit highly unlikely) oil-supply shocks arising thanks to the rise of a Gulf hegemon or regional instability are a core U.S. interest worth expending blood and treasure to prevent. Thankfully, this worst-case outcome is exceedingly unlikely to come to fruition thanks to the region’s fairly equitable and deterrence-favoring balance of power. Despite the overblown fears of countless Americans, terrorism poses nowhere near the level of threat to warrant a global war to combat it, particularly one based on the empirically flawed notion of terrorist safe havens. Washington would be wise to move its posture offshore, cease the war on terrorism, invest in defense capabilities—not with counterinsurgency in mind, but rather deterrence of great-power rivals—and largely forget about the region that has caused it so much trouble, yet means so little.
Alex Moore holds a Masters degree in International Conflict and Security from the Brussels School of International Studies in Brussels, Belgium.