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The Politics of Restraint in the Middle East

Payne, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-1936-8062 (2024). The Politics of Restraint in the Middle East. Parameters : journal of the US Army War College, 54(1), pp. 87-106. doi: 10.55540/0031-1723.3274


This manuscript argues that domestic constraints make it difficult for the United States to pursue a coherent program of restraint in the Middle East. Drawing on insights from relevant literature regarding public opinion, foreign policy decision-making and civil-military relations, it goes beyond existing accounts which either ignore the domestic components of grand strategy altogether or narrowly attribute a perceived lack of strategic adjustment to the obstructionism of a foreign policy establishment. To illustrate its claims, the article offers a case study of the Obama administration’s record, drawing on data on the distribution of military capabilities and interviews with senior officials. As events in Gaza prompt policy and military practitioners to re-visit debates about the appropriate size and scope of the military footprint in the region, this study offers a cautionary lesson about the importance of grounding any revised posture on a firm domestic foundation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: USAWC Press © 2023
Publisher Keywords: Middle East; restraint; public opinion; domestic politics; polarization; civil-military relations
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
U Military Science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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