Document Type


Publication Date

January 2016


Many commentators argue that the White House does not have a policy regarding the Middle East and North Africa. Based on observations of the White House's foreign policy decisions over a breadth of seven years, this article argues that The White House does have a clear policy and it is one of Strategic Absence. The term Strategic Absence is used to describe political behavior that arises from a belief that sometimes, in foreign affairs, it is better to be absent rather than present. Strategic Absence has led to a degradation of American influence in the Middle East and has contributed to deteriorating conflict situations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. The author describes the six core tenets of Strategic Absence and demonstrates, through case studies, that the Obama Administration has responded to challenges and threats to the United States' strategic interests in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria according to the parameters of the doctrine of Strategic Absence.