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Policy Forum

Beyond 'Mowing the Grass': U.S. and Israeli Strategy in the Middle East

Chuck Freilich and James F. Jeffrey

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April 18, 2018

Can Israel and the United States move beyond tactical responses to their strategic challenges in the Middle East? Watch a webcast with two longtime American and Israeli policymakers.

Israel and the United States have struggled to develop coherent policies toward the seemingly intractable, cross-cutting threats they face in the Middle East, raising the question of whether strategy is even possible in such circumstances. Instead, both have relied on tactical responses to strategic challenges, summed up in the oft-used Israeli metaphor of "mowing the grass" rather than getting to the root of the problem. Is this the best that both countries can do? Or is there a better way to address and perhaps even resolve regional challenges? To answer these questions, The Washington Institute hosted a Policy Forum with Chuck Freilich and James Jeffrey, moderated by Michael Eisenstadt.

Chuck Freilich is a senior fellow in the Belfer Center's International Security Program and a former Israeli deputy national security advisor. His most recent book is Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change (Oxford, 2018).

James Jeffrey is the Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute and a former deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. Among his numerous publications is the multiauthor Institute study Key Elements of a Strategy for the United States in the Middle East.

Michael Eisenstadt is the Institute's Kahn Fellow and director of its Military and Security Studies Program. His publications include the recent study Regional Pushback, Nuclear Rollback: A Comprehensive Strategy for an Iran in Turmoil.