The repercussions from 9/11/12—the day the roof fell in on the Obama administration’s Middle East policy—continue to rumble across the diplomatic and political landscapes. Before that day, much of the country’s political and media establishment had been studiously ignoring signs of trouble in the Middle East or, when problems were too serious to ignore, studiously refraining from drawing conclusions about the overall state of US policy in the region.
The anti-American riots that have been rocking the Muslim world since 9/11 have shaken the establishment out of its complacency. Increasingly, even those who sympathize with the basic elements of the administration’s Middle East policy are connecting the dots. What they are seeing isn’t pretty. It’s not just that the US remains widely disliked and distrusted in the region. It’s not just that the radicals and the jihadis have demonstrated more political sophistication and a greater ability to organize and strike than expected and that the struggle against radical terror looks longer lasting and more dangerous than thought; it’s that the strategic underpinnings of the administration’s Middle East policy seem to be falling apart. A series of crises is sweeping through the region, and the US does not—at least not yet—seem to have a clue what to do.
The New York Times and the Washington Post are both thoroughly alarmed by the state of the region after 9/11/12 and the reporters if not the editorial pages have moved on from the “Blame Bush” approach. The latest article by Helene Cooper and Robert Worth in the Times cites some pretty biting criticism about the President’s approach to the Arab Spring from (unnamed) top aides and associates. It even quotes an Arab diplomat who sounds nostalgic for the good old days of W to illustrate a criticism of the President made by an (unnamed) State Department official who said, speaking of the President: