ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The United States is not politically exhausted, “and it would be a mistake to come to that conclusion,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said during an interview here today.
“In fact, it would be a mistake to decide that we are politically exhausted or weary militarily,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Sky News.
Many in the Persian Gulf region believe that the United States is exhausted from 13 years of war. They point to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the coming drawdown in Afghanistan as proof of this weariness, and they extrapolate a U.S. withdrawal from the region at large.
But this is not the case, Dempsey said, citing what has happened to al-Qaida as an example. Al-Qaida was a centralized organization based out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States and its allies — including the United Arab Emirates — put pressure on the terror organization. Central al-Qaida is a shadow of its former self, but the group has adapted, the chairman said.
“They have taken advantage of unsettled and ungoverned spaces elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa,” the general said. “The terror group is a long-term problem and not one the United States is giving up on.”
Rather than being weary or wary, Dempsey said, the United States is “rebalancing our efforts to build partners, to enable others and to do certain things ourselves — but that should be our last resort.”
“For the most part,” he added, “we ought to address these challenges collaterally and collaboratively with partners.”
U.S. forces do face fiscal challenges, the chairman said, but he doesn’t see that affecting the Persian Gulf region. “We are going through a period of retraction in our budget, but it’s a matter of history,” he explained. “We go through this about every 20 years, and the United States still has the military capability to do many more than one thing at a time.”
The United States doesn’t face a choice to be either in the Atlantic or the Pacific, in Europe or the Middle East, or in Asia or Africa, Dempsey said.
“We have global responsibilities. We have global partnerships,” the chairman said. “One of the greatest strengths of the United States is its alliances, its partnerships, unlike some others who aspire to be great powers, but they don’t have friends, they don’t have partners. They try to go it alone. We, on the other hand, see our strength through our partners.”