U.S. Grand Strategy in the Middle East

The video of our 71st Capitol Hill Conference is now available for on-demand streaming. Click here for the full unedited transcript. A press recap with synopsis is available below. To receive invitations to future events, click here, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. To view our other Capitol Hill Conferences, click here.


Chas W. Freeman, Jr.

Chairman, Projects International; Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Former President, MEPC

William B. Quandt

Professor, University of Virginia; Former Member, National Security Council


Marwan Muasher

Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment; Former Foreign Minister & Deputy Prime Minister, Jordan; Former Ambassador of Jordan to the U.S.

John Duke Anthony

Founding President & Chief Executive Officer, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations


Thomas R. Mattair

Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council



United States in ‘Strategic Denial’ to Costs of Supporting Israel
Conference highlighted dwindling chances for a two-state solution

WASHINGTON, January 16, 2013— The Middle East Policy Council gathered today a distinguished panel for their 71st Capitol Hill Conference.  The conference addressed the question of whether the Obama administration can or should formulate a “grand strategy” in the Middle East, and in either case how should policy-making address the most urgent problems in the region.  These include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran’s nuclear program, transnational terrorism, the “Arab Awakening,” Syria’s civil war and political and economic security in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.  The event speakers and a summary of their comments are below; for members of the press seeking a full transcript from the event, please e-mail mepc.press@gmail.com.  Visit our website for full video from the event.

Thomas R. Mattair, Executive Director of the Middle East Policy Council, moderated the event.  Four panelists joined him: Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia), William B. Quandt (Former Member, National Security Council), Marwan Muasher (Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment), and John Duke Anthony (Founding President & CEO, National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations).  Their comments provided key insights to the central question of the conference “U.S. Grand Strategy in the Middle East: Is There One?”

Chas Freeman argued that the state of Israel craves land more than peace and that the U.S. de facto abandonment of the two-state solution is a boon for settlement expansion and harmful to U.S. influence in the region.  He asserted that U.S. support for Israel, combined with anti-Islamism and growing use of drones, precludes a U.S. grand strategy in the Middle East.

William Quandt expressed skepticism of grand strategies by referencing the Bush I/Clinton eras and the failed Iraq invasion of Bush II.  He recommended a strategy of balancing and persuasion anchored by overcoming U.S.-Iranian estrangement, pursuing strategic partnership with Turkey, and dedicating more resources to navigating the rapid political changes underway in Egypt.

Marwan Muasher suggested that U.S. policymakers should support reform in the Arab world while accepting that predictability has been replaced by fluidity in the region.  With regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he argued that “process” is no longer a sufficient goal, as it simply serves as an excuse for more settlement expansion.

John Duke Anthony offered historical context for the development of the GCC, highlighting the strategic importance of its member states to broader stability in the region.  He also described the perception that the U.S. is a partner in crime to Israel, something validated by the $8,000,000 per day in aid the U.S. has provided since the 1979 Camp David Accords.

An edited video by speaker, including a full transcript from the event will be posted in a few days at www.mepc.org and then published in the next issue of our journal Middle East Policy.

For interviews or other content associated with this event, please contact Rebecca Anderson – (202) 296 6767 – RAnderson@mepc.org

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