If I find the time, I will finish and publish a more developed piece on America’s stance toward the Islamic State, partly in response to a post on by Adam Elkus and Nick Prime that, in the process of proposing a theory for understanding and formulating American anti-IS strategy and policy, happened to link to a post here.

In the meantime, I have been engaging in discussion at Crooked Timber relating to a commentary by John Quiggin that I believe completely misstates the bases of American Middle East policy in a familiar way. The comments reprise many past themes at this blog, but I hope they may also help advance the discussion, or at worst clear away some brush.

My first comment:

The key false or at best badly and misleadingly overstated assumption underlying the linked article as well as the main argument highlighted in the OP is that US policy has ever or could ever have been to “govern the affairs of millions of people on the other side of the planet.” At no time, even during the height of the “nation-building” phase of the occupation of Iraq, has the US sought to “govern the affairs” of the people of the Middle East. Governing the affairs of the people of the Middle East would require an investment of blood and treasure that the US has never contemplated. It’s not precisely an absurd concept, but it does not resemble the American neo-imperial concept as actually implemented.