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What are American interests in the Middle East.

One of the consequences of the various uprisings gripping the Middle East will be a forced reappraisal of what American interests are in the region. No one is quite sure what will replace the old order that is in the process of either being swept away or seriously rattled, but I think it's clear that what follows will entail a rethink of U.S. policy.

In that light, a new Pew Research poll asked Americans to rank their Middle Eastern priorities:


That terrorism tops the list is interesting, because you could argue that the best thing the U.S. could do to blunt the spread of terrorism is to disentangle itself from the Middle East - something which may become a fait accompli if more democratic governments emerge in the Middle East. The flip side, however, is that chaos in the region (especially in Yemen) makes it more likely that terrorist cells can set up shop, making an attack against the U.S. more, not less, likely. Steps to reduce America's exposure to terror in the long run could produce a spike in short-term risk.