America’s Global Retreat and the Ensuing Strategic Vacuum

Shortly after President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. retreat from Syria and Afghanistan in October 2019, events in the region drew U.S. forces right back in. The administration’s decision to target Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, triggered tit-for-tat retaliation between Washington and Tehran at the opening of 2020, bringing bilateral tensions to their highest levels since the 1979 hostage crisis. Despite these actions in the region, Washington is still seeking to retreat from its security commitments in the Greater Middle East and Central Asia. While there are financial and political benefits to reducing America’s footprint abroad, a reduced presence in this geopolitically critical part of the world could also create a strategic vacuum with dire diplomatic, economic, and security consequences.