Engaging the Middle East

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Shadi Hamid at Democracy Arsenal suggests that the U.S. should not abandon the Middle East:

The problem with the Bush administration wasn’t that it was overly focused on the Middle East; it was that it was overly focused on the Middle East, and managed, at the same time, and somewhat amazingly, to make it even more screwed up than it already was. The latter part – rather than the former – is where we went wrong. The correct corrective, therefore, is not to decrease “meddling” but rather to address the region’s myriad problems not by engaging less, but by engaging better.

At what point will the failure to finesse properly the politics of hundreds of million of people of varying cultures, sectarian devotions and tribal loyalties half a world away be credited to the impossibility of the task and not the inadequacy of the tools?

To the extent that the Middle East is "screwed up," it's because the region has been the scene of so much "engagement" by great powers throughout its history. Why not try something novel for a change?

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