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The End of America’s Exit Strategy in the Middle East

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The End of America’s Exit Strategy in the Middle East

Hamas’s Assault—and Iran’s Role in It—Lays Bare Washington’s Illusions

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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Hamas’s attack on Israel will keep America from reducing its involvement in the Middle East.

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Foreign policy expert Suzanne Maloney describes the heavy price the United States has paid for its involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia in the 21st century. In this illuminating essay, she notes that America’s efforts to disentangle itself through conciliatory gestures and softer diplomacy toward Iran were for naught, as the 2023 Hamas attack on Israel appears to have had tacit Iranian involvement. Despite attempts to redefine its role in the region, America must now toughen its posture to contain Iran’s aggression and nuclear weapons development. Maloney advocates for a more hard-line approach to keep Iran in check.


Involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia has cost America dearly.

The United States’ two decades of combating terrorism and its mismanaged attempts at regime change in these regions have come at tremendous cost, both fiscal and societal. A rising China and an increasingly autocratic Russia have become more pressing concerns than the Middle East or Central Asia. Washington, DC, has sought to focus on the growing aspirations of Russia and China.

The United States looked to engineer a power realignment in the region that would reduce its role there while keeping China at bay. America sought to arrange a reconciliation between the Saudi Kingdom and Israel to create an alliance against their common enemy, Iran, and to shield Saudi Arabia from Chinese...

About the Author

Suzanne Maloney is vice president of the Brookings Institution and the director of its Foreign Policy Program.

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