Israel's economic blockade of Hamas, following Hamas' election victory, brought rockets down on Israeli towns north of Gaza and a bloody re-intervention by Israeli troops. Ehud Olmert's war to smash Hezbollah ended in smashing Lebanon and a moral victory for Hezbollah, which withstood five weeks of air strikes and a feckless Israeli invasion.
Diplomatically, America has never been weaker in the Middle East, Israel has never been more beleaguered, the Hezbollah-Syria-Iranian axis never stronger, and our friends in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states never more apprehensive.
Nor are the trends hopeful. The Afghan and Iraqi wars Bush launched never looked more certain to end in U.S. defeats.
What is the cause of the impending collapse of the U.S. position across the Middle East? We put democratist ideology ahead of national interests. We projected our ideas of what is right, true and inevitable onto people who do not share them. We tried to impose our will with our military power, which is more effective at killing Arab enemies than winning Arab hearts.
America is failing in the Middle East because our leaders of both parties will not look at the region through Arab eyes. What Bush saw as a glorious liberation of Iraq, Arabs saw as an invasion. Where Bush sees in Israel a model of democracy, Arabs see a pampered agent of U.S. imperialism, persecuting and dispossessing the Palestinian people.
"For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in ... the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all the people."
So, Condi Rice hubristically declared in Cairo in 2005,
Since then, those elections that Rice demanded have advanced toward or into power the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the radical Shia in Iraq and Ahmadinejad in Iran.
But at least Bush and Rice have solved the stability problem.