Home/Daniel Larison/‘Arab NATO’: A Terrible Idea That Won’t Die

‘Arab NATO’: A Terrible Idea That Won’t Die

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Trump is trying to create a so-called “Arab NATO” as part of his obsession with Iran:

The Trump administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

Creating a new alliance structure isn’t in the interests of the U.S., and the threat it is supposedly countering is wildly exaggerated. There is no Iranian “expansion” to be countered. The real purpose of a new military alliance would probably be to provide political cover for reckless interventions of the kind we have seen in Yemen. It is difficult to see how a new alliance (tentatively named the Middle East Strategic Alliance) would fare any better than the existing Gulf Cooperation Council, which has been badly split by the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. It is even harder to see why Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar would want to join an explicitly anti-Iranian alliance.

A new alliance would represent more unnecessary and potentially costly commitments from the U.S., and it would tie the U.S. even more closely to reckless despotic clients that have become liabilities. If it goes ahead, it would represent the intensification of almost everything wrong with U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and it will sooner or later drag the U.S. into more regional wars. The U.S. already has too many security commitments, and it has been far too involved in the conflicts of this region for the last thirty years. Creating a new alliance would mean adding even more burdens when we need to reduce them, and it would further ensnare us in the rivalries of a region that matters very little to U.S. security. An “Arab NATO” is a terrible idea, so of course it is something that Trump supports creating.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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