Aaron David Miller is currently the vice president for new initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Between 2006 and 2008, he was a public policy scholar when he wrote his fourth book The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace (2008). For the prior two decades, he served at the Department of State as an advisor to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, where he helped formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East and the Arab-Israel peace process, most recently as the senior advisor for Arab-Israeli negotiations. He also served as the deputy special Middle East coordinator for Arab-Israeli negotiations, senior member of the State Department's policy planning staff, in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and in the Office of the Historian. He has received the department's Distinguished, Superior, and Meritorious Honor awards.
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Indeed, stripped to its essence, what the President has outlined isn't some grand strategy to transform the region or even to "ultimately destroy" ISIS; it's a much narrower transactional one to protect the homeland.
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Don't be fooled by the Iraq airstrikes. He's the risk-averse president he's always been -- and that should be just fine by us.
America has to get over its obsession with happy endings or definitive solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Because right now there are not any either to the impasse in Gaza or to the broader challenge.
When it comes to Gaza, don't dream about demilitarization or economic miracles. In fact, forget the endgame. Right now, summoning the urgency, the right mediator, and a deal to stop the killing will be hard enough.
Iraq was never the U.S.'s to win. That point -- along with lowered expectations and focused goals -- must be the basis of any new approach to the region.
A cohesive Iraqi state will always be a fiction. ISIS will shoot itself in the foot. And other important truths to guide U.S. policy in todays increasingly turbulent Middle East.
Obama didn't lose Iraq because it has never been ours to win. And he can't win it now.
Six grand illusions of Americas foreign policy.
Obama might be risk averse, but there are at least five scenarios in which he might use military force in the Middle East.