So what is the current U.S. policy in the Middle East? Does Washington back democracy and popular uprisings? Yes in Libya. No in Syria. No in Bahrain. Sometimes in Egypt.
Does Washington stand with military-backed regimes that claim to ensure stability? No in Syria. Yes across the Persian Gulf. Sometimes in Egypt. No in Iran.
What is the Obama Doctrine? It seems to be one of disengagement, to try to ignore the hot, religious, dry, poor countries from Algeria to Pakistan.
Around the same time of my somewhat disturbing conversations with U.S. policy experts on the Middle East, I met with a group of American business leaders: Internet innovators, tycoons, big money bankers and hedge fund managers. They talked about biotech, robotics, China and fracking in North America. They talked about the human genome project and supercomputers and 3D printing. There was no mention at all of the Middle East. The arch of instability wedged between Europe and the Sahara Desert seemed to be written off, a sand trap for moguls to avoid at Augusta. The Sunnis and Shiites living in the footprint of the old Ottoman Empire would simply have to find their way, killing themselves if they had to.
Perhaps this is the new U.S. policy toward the Middle East, a deliberate look away.