What has people concerned and despairing is not American decline but America’s declining interest — the sense that the Obama administration, and the American people, have about washed their hands of the Middle East. …

And it’s hard to deny: Many in the United States, not just inside the Obama administration, seem to think American policy needs to be “rebalanced.” The strategic importance of the Middle East is declining, they argue, as the United States grows independent of the region’s oil supply. Obama does little to push back against a growing public perception that there is nothing but trouble for the United States brewing in the Middle East. …

The irony, of course, is that every time the Obama administration tries to turn toward Asia, the Middle East drags it back — literally, in the case of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It’s an illusion to think we will not continue to be drawn into Middle East affairs. …

The present world order is seamless, and so is the global strategy necessary to sustain it. As one prominent statesman expressed the general puzzlement here, “Can’t the United States walk and chew gum at the same time?” For decades the United States has been able to provide security and remain engaged in three major theaters at once: Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Today those theaters are more interconnected, economically and strategically, than ever.