USCENTCOM and the Future
November 18, 2008
The United States must do more than deal with its withdrawal from Iraq and reverse the course of the Afghan conflict. It needs to rethink the overall structure of its military posture and strategy in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. This requires the United States to address is diplomatic and aid efforts as part of a broad approach to the region, but it also requires a new focus for USCENTCOM and significant changes in the way the United States approaches the entire area of operations.
The Burke Chair has developed a summary briefing on what these changes should be and the key areas that the new administration and USCENTCOM commanders should examine. The brief highlights several obvious priorities: the need to create successful political accommodation and a stable and secure Iraq, the need to win the Afghan-Pakistan conflict, and the need to deal with the challenge posed by Iran.
The briefing also suggests, however, that the United States has broader goals. It must seek a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace with the grim understanding that it may not be successful in the near term. It must recast its approach to the war on terrorism to strengthen cooperation with regional states, while also correcting the widespread impression in the region that the United States is anti-Arab and anti-Muslim and that it sees reform more as a way of creating friendly regimes than of helping local governments and reformers address the underlying causes of terrorism.