The ongoing protests over the anti-Islamic film "Innocence of Muslims" has naturally led to finger pointing and partisan sniping in the United States.
On the left, we have the absurd (and evidently untrue) suggestion from the Obama administration that it was all just outrage over "Innocence." Just a misunderstanding that can be soothed over with more pious homilies. Conservatives have responded by retreating to the usual trope that "strength" will be respected and that it was simply Obama's weakness that initiated the ferocious unrest.
The truth is, the U.S. has a very immature relationship with the Middle East. The left and neoconservative right tend to treat the region as child-like, in need of careful nurturing so that they can flower into their full democratic potential (and be ever grateful as a result). The right, when not indulging in the same democratic do-gooderism, tends to believe that the region is similarly child-like but needs to be cowed with displays of power, the better to "respect" us (translation: submit to policies they find offensive or oppressive). Both sides routinely express shock and outrage when the Mideast responds with displays of anti-Americanism.
Moreover, despite some topical changes, U.S. policy toward the region has been incredibly stable since President Carter: the U.S. takes a deep and abiding interest in keeping Israel secure, anti-American powers down, and corrupt and dictatorial allies in power. All three policies are deeply resented in the region. To a subset of the region, American values aren't that popular either (even a wholesale change in U.S. policy wouldn't stop Salafist rabble rousers from burning flags and marching on embassies at this or that perceived outrage, nor is it likely to stop dedicated jihadists whose radicalism can't be wound down all that quickly).
So the likely U.S. response to Middle Eastern protest, in the short term at least, is going to be more of the same. Conservatives will make vague but insistent demands for "strength" while liberals will talk up the merits of outreach and democratic reforms. Foreign policy experts will double down on the orthodoxy that the Mideast is just too important to be left to chart its own destiny.
I'd prefer to see these events as yet another reminder that the U.S. should be pursuing a policy of gradual disengagement and benign neglect. Over time, if fracking and alternative energy sources ultimately do disperse the concentration of strategic energy wealth around the world, the value of the Middle East to U.S. economic security will plummet (indeed, it was arguably overblown to begin with). That will knock the legs out of the rationale for supporting what dictators and monarchs are able to pull through the Arab Spring. It will also weaken the rationale for attacking countries like Iran, whose principle threat to the U.S. revolves around an ability to spike global oil prices. Washington's ability to secure Israel will suffer a bit with fewer dictators to bribe, but Israel's defensive capabilities can still be sustained offshore - through arms sales and intelligence sharing.