Why the U.S. Military’s Messages Are Falling on Deaf Middle Eastern Ears
This commentary was originally published in Defense One on April 24, 2023.
Almost 40 years ago, a glam-rock band from California named Autograph released “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me.” The lead singer wails that despite his devotion, “Her mind is stuck on wait and see.” Needless to say, the song doesn’t end well for him.
U.S. military officials spend a lot of time messaging their deep relations with allies and partners in the Middle East, but Middle Eastern rulers aren’t returning the love. The problem isn’t only that they see important opportunities elsewhere, or that they have been hearing for more than a decade that the United States is seeking to diminish its focus on them and concentrate on East Asia. They also see the White House, Congress, and the American public being persistently skeptical about their security needs. Not unreasonably seeing American support as a potentially volatile variable, they are increasingly investing in more diverse relationships and preparing to live in a more multipolar world.