• 2 September 2015

    Public Program | Aspen Brown Bag Lunch: “The U.S., Europe, and the Middle East: What are the stakes and what are our options?”

    On September 2, 2015, the Aspen Institute hosted an Aspen Brown Bag Lunch on “The U.S., Europe, and the Middle East: What are the stakes and what are our options ?” with Dr. Adam Garfinkle, founding editor of The American Interest and former principal speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of State. At first, the current situation in the Middle East was briefly summarized. It was explained that the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which had long been the central source of unrest in the region, had now been replaced by religious conflicts. Regarding the influence of U.S. foreign policy in the region, the argument was presented that the U.S. war against Iraq and the withdrawal of all U.S. troops in 2011 had left a vacuum in the region and thereby opened up the opportunity for Al Qaeda and ISIS to step in, infiltrate ungoverned areas, and further radicalize respectively militarize the already fragile region. The Obama Administration’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 was criticized as too soon, as well as the failure to successfully negotiate a SOFA-Agreement with the Iraqi Government. The participants also discussed the Nuclear Agreement with Iran and the U.S. relationship with Israel. Toward the end of the discussion, Turkey’s decisive role in the fight against ISIS was stressed. However, Dr. Garfinkle remained largely skeptical with regard to intensified military engagement on the part of Turkey and mentioned the tense political situationin Turkey with snap elections to be held in November.