Oct 14, 2021
In 1990 the U.S. possessed one military base in the Middle East, a small naval installation in Bahrain. In August of that year Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the U.S.-led response in the Gulf War would lay the foundation for the “forever wars” of our own time. The United States would establish dozens of permanent army, air, and naval bases from which it would launch attacks across the region over the next three decades. The U.S. military presence in the Greater Middle East is now so prosaic that it is easy to forget the time when our leaders avoided sending large forces into that volatile region, which was viewed as strategically less important than Europe and Asia in the early years of the Cold War. But that started changing in the late 1970s and culminated in a key decision by the Reagan administration in 1983: to establish CENTCOM. Andrew Bacevich, the president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, discusses the importance of creating CENTCOM, whose imperium covers 21 nations from Egypt east to Afghanistan.