This episode of the MWI Podcast features a conversation with Ken Pollack, a military analyst and the author of Armies of Sand, a book that examines the question of the effectiveness of Arab militaries. Specifically, it grapples with the question of why these forces have often not performed very well on the battlefield—from the armies of Saddam Hussein to Muammar Gaddafi and beyond.

As you’ll hear, a number of factors combine to explain these patterns, from external influences to corruption and politicization. Diagnosing the causes is especially important because of American interests in the Middle East. The United States has partnerships with many of the states in the region, and these governments’ ability to generate effective and professional military forces will have a substantial impact on the way the US government should develop strategy for the region.

You can listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the MWI Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss an episode!