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US Involvement in the Middle East: Where Are We Headed?

July 3, 2014

From left to right: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Vice President of Studies Marwan Muasher, New America President and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter, and former Sen. George Mitchell at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival

The 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival presented several discussions focused on the Middle East region in an effort to consider what the United States’ role is and should be in resolving conflict there. Featuring international relations experts who have worked on these issues and studied them for years — some native to the region — here are some of their main points about how much the US should be involved in Syria, Iraq, and their neighbors now and in the future.

Sending US Troops to Syria: No One is Talking About That

“Absolutely no one is talking about sending troops into the [Syrian] region,” said New America Foundation President and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter. “It is intellectually dishonest to claim that people who want intervention in Syria want a repeat of Iraq.” Above, Slaughter explains what an intervention in Syria would look like. Watch the full session of Arab Spring or Middle East Chaos? here. 

Extremist Groups in the Middle East:

“[Extremist groups] thrive when states use excessive force… when political means fail…when they can make a credible argument for the fact that violence is the only solution,” said Dalia Mogahed, president and CEO of Mogahed Consulting. In the video above, Mogahed offers a solution to take down extremist groups. Watch the full session of Experts Project: What Will the Map of the Middle East Look Like? here.

Sunnis vs. Shiites: ‘The Lesser of Two Evils’

During a discussion between Atlantic national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg and the former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, Oren offered a candid perspective on choosing between what he called “the lesser of two evils.” “One side is armed with suicide bombers and rockets and the other side has access to military nuclear capabilities,” he said. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s going to be an evil that’s going to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail.” Watch the full session of The United States, the Jewish State, and the Future of the Middle East here.