On July 1, 2016, the Paris office of The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a luncheon-discussion entitled “U.S. and European Foreign Policy in the Middle East: Unity or Division in the Face of Chaos?” with Philip Gordon, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2013- 2015, Gordon was the former assistant to President Obama and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf region. Prior to that post, he was the former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
The event was followed by a discussion moderated by Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, director of the GMF Paris Office and senior transatlantic fellow.
Gordon began his presentation with a short description of the current situation in the Middle East, explaining how the erosion of institutions in the region and the instability resulting from the collapse of governments after the Arab revolutions, have increased sectarianism, with very complex rivalries dividing the Sunni and Shia communities. U.S. foreign policy has struggled in addressing these simultaneous crises, and neither military intervention in Iraq or Libya, nor non-intervention in Syria, have been the right formula. The local and regional divisions have contributed to further deteriorate relations between the United States and the Gulf states, and reduced opportunities for regional alliances and solutions.
The instability in the region directly impacts U.S. and European interests, notably through the spill-over of terrorism and radicalization from the region to Europe, but also the United States. In this context, transatlantic cooperation is absolutely critical and common strategies should be developed to address these crises more efficiently, especially on the diplomatic piece. Gordon concluded by commenting on Brexit and its strategic implications for Europe and the future of transatlantic relations.
The event was attended by 30 French senior policymakers, experts and representatives of the private sector.