The United States and the Mediterranean in an Age of Shocks
The United States has been a Mediterranean power for well over 200 years, but without devoting much attention to the Mediterranean as a strategic space in its own right. The November 2020 presidential election and the course of the Covid-19 crisis and its economic ramifications are enormous variables. But neither is this enduring reality likely to change. At the same time, concerns about American disengagement, whether from the Middle East and North Africa or from Europe, have proven to be overblown. This, too, is unlikely to change. Looking ahead, American policy will be torn between attention compelled by crises and alliances and the immense distraction of global health, economic and security concerns.
A Persistent Approach
Traditionally, American interests in the Mediterranean have been a derivative of broader concerns, often at some distance from Mediterranean shores. This stands in sharp contrast to the European and even the Russian approach. For the US, the Mediterranean is not a neighbourhood or a “near-abroad.” Washington’s interest in and policy toward the region has been a derivative of America’s interest in European affairs; the Mediterranean’s position as a political and logistical gateway to the Persian Gulf; and as a collection of flashpoints around North Africa and the Levant. Taken together, these elements have been sufficient for successive administrations to pay considerable attention to the region.