BY JOE WEBSTER
Changing conditions in Syria and Afghanistan demand tactical adjustment. The advance of terrorist forces in Syria and Afghanistan calls for a more muscular response. Military force is hardly sufficient to sustain order in Syria and Afghanistan, but it is a necessary precondition. The United States should maintain and enhance its military presence in these areas in a transparent, responsible manner.
Retaining current troop levels in Afghanistan may 1) ensure that conditions in the country do not deteriorate further and 2) assure and remind allies, potential partners, and terrorist groups of U.S. commitment to the stability of the region.
Similarly, increasing military engagement in the anti-ISIS campaign in a restrained but firm manner may be necessary. A dual track strategy of bombing ISIS terrorists while offering a Syrian peace plan (similar to the one recommended by Professor Edward Joseph) may be the best path forward.
The broader Asia-Pacific – not the Middle East – is still central to the world economy and home to most of the world’s populatin. Therefore, missteps by the United States in the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan have, so far, produced limited consequences for U.S. foreign policy objectives. Yet it may be necessary to recalibrate the Middle East’s weight in U.S. foreign policy. Enhancing the U.S. military’s role in Afghanistan and Syria while simultaneously advancing a Syrian peace plan will likely ensure that tactical missteps do not spiral into strategic errors.
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