The key take-away of the recent events in the middle east, for me, is that whatever we were trying to do in the Muslim world, it is now in shambles. Whether one wants to take the leftwing/Islamist view that Islam is angered by our wrongdoing or if one wishes to point out that Islam has been the aggressor for more than a thousand years is immaterial – whether it is war or the olive branch we were trying to bring to the Muslim world, both our war and peace policies have failed. We have no victorious war while also having no peace. However we go forward, we should go forward as a blank slate. The first thing for us to do, then, is to figure out what we want.
The Muslim world is a billion people sitting on a strategic crossroads and also containing a very large amount of the exceptionally valuable substance, oil. This reality is just there – it can’t be argued with. Whatever we might want, our policy has to take in to consideration that it is there and has to be dealt with. So, the first thing we can dispose of is any concept that we can just entirely walk away and pretend it doesn’t matter. For good or ill, the United States will be involved in the affairs of the Muslim world. That said, we still have to define what we want our involvement to be.