The U.S. quest for stability in the Middle East that amounted to support for autocratic regimes at the expense of democratic values was in part fueled by fear -- fear that change in countries like Saudi Arabia threatened to open the door to the replacement of conservative, pro-Western rulers by military officers steeped in a vision that combined nationalism and Islamism.
While it is not wise to use one interview as a basis to form an opinion or policy, one point of view is better than no point of view. I am fortunate to know someone from Iran briefly studying in the U.S. that is willing to talk about this issue from an Iranian point of view before he returns to Iran.
Last week the Obama administration sent clear signals that it was planning to fold its tents in Afghanistan earlier than previously advertised. That set off a flurry of speculation as to why and whether we were giving up on the mission. Most of the talk is about how a retreat could be accomplished with credibility intact. After all, Afghanistan is where the "war on terror" began more than ten years ago. Once again, though, we are focusing on means and modalities without specifying the ends. And the bitter truth is that the Obama administration's foreign policy team is witless about too many things. There is a strong case to made that it is not competent to be the custodian of the nation's welfare in the larger world; nor is it honest about its shortcomings.