From the Editors
PIVOT, REBALANCE, RETRENCH
A 2011 poll of Washington savants found that, Democrat and Republican, most of them view the Middle East as declining in strategic value in relation to Asia and the Pacific. On cue, the Obama administration rolled out its plan to “pivot” to Asia in deploying the US Navy and investing diplomatic energy. It turns out, however, that a major reason for this “rebalancing” is to police China’s access to the Indian Ocean and, from there, the Persian Gulf. Is US grand strategy really changing? The fall 2012 issue of Middle East Report, “Pivot, Rebalance, Retrench,” assesses the US posture in the Middle East as the 2012 presidential election approaches.
In the war on terror, the heyday of counterinsurgency appears to be on the wane, with “kinetic” measures like drone strikes assuming pride of place. Lisa Hajjar lays out the anatomy of the Obama administration’s targeted killing policy and the legal defenses thereof. As Laleh Khalili explains, some of the more prominent -- though not most trenchant -- critics of the drones are the gurus of counterinsurgency. Anthropologist Rochelle Davis updates her research into the effects of cultural education conducted by the US military on interactions between US soldiers and local residents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Sahara and Sahel are emerging battlefields in the war on terror. Historian George R. Trumbull IV shows how the prisms of counterterrorism and resource politics have distorted the great powers’ views of the local conflicts there.
Returning to traditional spheres of US influence, Toby Jones takes stock of the Obama administration’s position in the Persian Gulf amid the Arab revolts and unrest in various Arab Gulf states. He argues that, far from inaction, Washington’s stance is a form of intervention in favor of regimes that have decided to deepen rather than ameliorate the region’s political crisis.
Also featured: Dan Connell documents the plight of refugees fleeing the brutal regime of Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea; Fida Adely and Jean Lachapelle report on resurgent labor activism in Jordan and Egypt, respectively; Christian Parenti reviews Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Little America; and more.
Subscribe to Middle East Report or order individual copies here.
For further information, contact Chris Toensing at email@example.com.
Middle East Report is published by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), a progressive, independent organization based in Washington, DC. Since 1971 MERIP has provided critical analysis of the Middle East, focusing on political economy, popular struggles, and the implications of US and international policy for the region.
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