For the past 15 years, there have been increasing calls for the United States to reduce its overseas force structure and to bring troops home. Such discussion accelerated during the Trump administration, and perceptions of American retrenchment were heightened by President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. This article asks the key question: Is Washington really engaging in a systematic pullout from the Middle East? Based on publicly available evidence, I argue that, contrary to common perceptions, the American military is actually increasing its forward presence in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf region. In addition, I contend that the two other states that have the potential to replace the United States in the Middle East, Russia and China, are for multiple reasons incapable of doing so. In addition to puncturing the myths, the article contributes to the ongoing policy debates and theoretical literatures regarding Middle East security and great-power competition.
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