The conflicts in the Middle East have unfolded similarly to the war in Vietnam. Review of the conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan reveals that they all evolved via insurgencies and stabilization operations into stalemates or withdrawal. Lack of a clear strategy, including both goals and objectives, resulted in protracted asymmetrical warfare, loss and injury to civilians and military personnel, and wasting shocking amounts of equipment and money. The author concludes that the conflicts have not ended unfavorably because of lack of will, poor military leadership, or lack of resources. The most common cause for reaching stalemate was failure to produce the political results that the world's leaders wanted. A second cause was external forces taking over the responsibility for security from the sovereign nations in conflict. A third cause was ignoring differences in culture. Those were just the tip of the iceberg. The overarching message is that war is caused by a failure of political systems and the inability of all countries to maintain strong demonstrable deterrence.