United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities Mara Karlin, at Wednesday's third annual Middle East Institute CENTCOM Conference, addressed the Pentagon's Middle East policy amid the department's shift paradigm to attend to defense threats elsewhere.

Karlin stated that the National Defense Strategy stresses China and Russia as top priority threats, minimizing those in the Middle East. "As we implement this strategy, we must grapple with these tradeoffs around the world, including in the Middle East," said Karlin, but insisted, "The NDS is clear that the United States will remain engaged in the Middle East." Adding that "US interests are interwoven into the region."

The official explained the change in her department's Middle East policy and its move to diplomacy over military might: "Effective deterrence does not require the basing of hundreds of thousands of US troops in static formations; in fact, that would be ineffective deterrence. Our strength comes from our ability to leverage partnerships, coalitions, and in our agility – our ability to flow forces to where they are needed, swiftly and effectively."

Karlin added: "To be clear: this is a paradigm shift in our approach to the region – one that de-emphasizes unrealistic aims of transformation, or regime change, often pursued through unilateral military means, but focuses rather on our comparative advantages in partnerships and the fundamentals of sound policy: building coalitions, aligning ends and means, and setting clear and achievable aims."... Read More: Arutz-7