But I think the real critical center of power and decision making is at the Pentagon, is at the U.S. Department of Defense, which sees itself as heavily invested and having been historically invested in keeping its own military and strategic presence in the Persian Gulf and Middle East alive by maintaining a tight relationship with Saudi Arabia. It needs Saudi for all kinds of regions. Because Saudi Arabia is the hegemonic power in the Middle East, because it's the biggest oil producer. And because what Saudi says to the Kuwaitis and the Emiratis and the Bahrainis and the Omanis often goes. Although less for the latter. So the Pentagon is, I think, most important in making decisions about the region, and it's less vulnerable to criticism from either Congress or from the American public. It's insulated in critical ways. Much of the criticism comes to the White House.
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Natylie Baldwin is author of The View from Moscow: Understanding Russia and U.S.-Russia Relations available in e-book and print. She has traveled throughout western Russia since 2015 and has written several articles based on her conversations and interviews with a cross-section of Russians. She blogs at (more...)