FOREIGN POLICY

U.S. Must Maintain Mideast Influence

With the Middle East in a state of massive transition, William S. Cohen, a former U.S. secretary of defense and the head of a strategic-advisory firm, makes three predictions: populist policies will continue to sway the work of new governments, Islamic parties will grow in stature and importance within newly democratic states, and the U.S. will struggle to play its traditional leadership role. “The US will continue to play a critical role in the Middle East as a guarantor of stability and security, and as an economic and military power,” Cohen writes. “However, in order to influence events and promote democratic values within the new Middle East, the US must quickly develop meaningful relationships with new actors across a variety of governmental and societal circles. Military alliances are important, but the US must move rapidly to broaden its relationships in the commercial, economic, cultural, social and technological spheres in order to help Middle Eastern governments bring tangible benefits to their people and provide opportunities for their citizens.”