The U.S. is now confronted with two basic options in the Middle East: the neoconservatives can continue to hope that an increasingly unlikely miracle will permit us to use Iraq as our military and political base from which to dominate the region, or we can attempt the kind of sophisticated diplomacy that mature great powers have carried out over the centuries. But we cannot do both.
The diplomatic, as opposed to warlike, stance requires statecraft conducted by statesmen. Problem is the Bush administration has none of these in its closed shop and indicates neither capability nor interest in bringing in seasoned people who understand diplomacy. Well into its second term, the friends of W remain a secret society whose members speak the same coded language, worship at the same altar, and share the same secret handshake.
Up to now our government (president and acquiescent Congress) has tried to combine unilateral preventive warfare in Iraq with detachment and avoidance in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontations. This has produced a failed occupancy in Iraq, a failing occupancy in Aghanistan (recently described by the British NATO forces commander as near collapse), and war between Israel and most surrounding neighbors.
Why not just retreat to fortress America and let them settle it themselves. Well, we have our own ongoing conflict with the jihadis who originated in the region, but who, except for their Iraqi training ground, have moved the center of their operations to Europe. And then, of course, there is that little matter of OIL.
Even if we had an administration in Washington that took diplomacy seriously, which we don't, our bona fides and integrity will remain compromised by our Persian Gulf oil dependency.