Israeli, U.S., and Emirati leaders hold a meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 2020
Ministry of Presidential Affairs / WAM / Handout / Reuters

It has been clear for some time that the United States should do less in the Middle East, despite the attendant risks and costs—a case that we made in these pages last year (“America’s Middle East Purgatory,” January/February 2019). At the time, some welcomed this argument; others balked at it. Yet the dramatic developments of recent months have underscored the need for the United States to focus less on the region, highlighting both the opportunity costs of remaining entangled and the unique dangers of President Donald Trump’s approach.

Even before the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic

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