top of page
  • Writer's pictureArmstrong Williams

The complex dynamics of America's Middle East engagement

February 6, 2024 |

In the shadowed corners of the Middle East, where ancient trade routes twist like serpents through the desert, lies an obscure outpost in Jordan called Tower 22 (T-22). This newly discovered outpost and the name, now a glaring testament to the convoluted and often opaque nature of modern warfare and foreign policy, became known to most Americans in the first press releases addressing the Jan. 28 attack on the base.

The retreat of U.S. forces from al-Qaim and the tiny outpost that preceded Tower 22 in 2004 marked the beginning of a tumultuous period, a prelude to the rise of al-Qaida and ISIS. Today, the vastly expanded base, reportedly home to 350 Americans and visible on Google Earth, stands not as a symbol of strength but as a poignant reminder of the vulnerabilities and contradictions inherent in America's military engagements in the shadows and mirrors of the Middle East and Arabia at large.

The attack on T-22, a costly reminder of the perils of such exposed positions, raises fundamental questions about the transparency of the U.S. military operations. The Pentagon's penchant for secrecy, ostensibly to protect national security, has ironically left the American public in the dark, while those with malevolent intent seem to be steps ahead, armed with meticulously assembled "target packages" on "secret" facilities throughout the region.

The root of this strategic quagmire lies in the shifting sands of international politics and economics. The U.S. government's policy, which currently appears to lack direction, is being exploited by opportunistic global players such as Iran, China and Russia. Iran in particular has emerged flush with cash, a consequence of the U.S.' own faltering steps — from the Obama administration to Donald Trump's tenure — that inadvertently bolstered Iran's economic resilience.

Sanctions, once the sharp sword of U.S. foreign policy, have been blunted. The reliance on the U.S. dollar as the primary currency in global trade has been eroded by alternative systems such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which challenge the dollar's supremacy. Moreover, Iran's deep roots in ancient trade networks and its adept use of traditional barter systems and underground financial networks like Hawala and Siraj further dilute the effectiveness of traditional economic sanctions.

As the toll of the attack in Jordan climbs, questions arise about the impact of U.S. financial policies on Iran's military capabilities. The strategic landscape is reminiscent of a George Carlin skit — tragically comical in its absurdity where the U.S., in its bid to exert economic pressure, ends up undermining its own currency and, inadvertently, empowering its adversaries.

Meanwhile, the situation in Iraq is evolving toward "Lebanonization" of the entire nation, with Iran extending its influence through well-equipped militias and Iraq itself negotiating the departure of American troops, including from the Kurdish regions. This development, tied to a one-year ticking clock on the withdrawal decision that aligns with the U.S. presidential inauguration in January 2025, suggests that a crucial strategic decision will fall either at the twilight of a presidency or at the dawn of a new administration — a timing as precarious as it is significant.

In this complex geopolitical chess game, where ancient trade routes intersect with modern warfare and economic strategies, the U.S. finds itself at a crossroads. Its technological prowess, once a formidable advantage, now seems less decisive against the backdrop of age-old barter systems and hidden financial networks. As the U.S. grapples with these challenges, the future of its engagement in the Middle East and the safety of its personnel stationed there hangs in a delicate balance, a narrative woven with threads of irony, tragedy and the enduring complexities of global power dynamics.

The unfolding scenario at the T-22 base in Jordan is more than a tactical blunder; it reflects a broader strategic myopia. It raises critical questions about the efficacy of U.S. foreign policy and military strategy in a rapidly evolving global landscape. The ancient wisdom of the Middle East, where history is written in the sands and whispered in the winds, stands in stark contrast to the technological might and economic power of the West. Yet, in this age-old battleground of empires, it's the unseen currents of culture, tradition and covert finance that often dictate the outcomes of conflicts. The U.S., in its pursuit of global dominance, must adapt to these realities or risk being outmaneuvered in a game where the rules are as fluid as the shifting sands of the desert.

Armstrong Williams' column is syndicated by Creators. 

5 views0 comments


bottom of page