Newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood attended college and later taught classes in California. Apparently Morsi once came here to enjoy American freedom and for his family to be protected by our tolerance and security. Is that why he is crushing liberal opponents and the Egyptian media -- to ensure that they never enjoy the protections and opportunities that were offered to him while a guest in the United States?
Note that anti-Americanism was often attributed to the unique unpopularity of Texan George W. Bush, who invaded two Middle Eastern countries, tried to foster democracies, and institutionalized a number of tough antiterrorism security policies. In turn, Barack Obama was supposed to be the antidote -- a Muslim family on his father's side, his middle name Hussein, early schooling in Muslim Indonesia, a number of pro-Islamic speeches and interviews, apologies abroad, and a postracial personal story.
Yet recent polls show that Obama is even less popular in the Middle East than was Bush.
Staggering U.S. debt also explains the impending divorce. With $5 trillion in new American borrowing in just the last four years, and talk of slashing $1 trillion from the defense budget over the next 10 years, America's options abroad may be narrowing. President Obama also envisions a more multilateral world in which former American responsibilities in the Middle East are outsourced to collective interests like the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.
Perhaps soon the problem will be that we simply will not have enough power to use it for much of anything -- and would have to ask the U.N. for permission if we did.
Usually nothing good comes from American isolationism, especially given our key support for a vulnerable democratic Israel. But for a variety of reasons, good and bad, our Humpty-Dumpty policy of Middle East engagement is now shattered.
And no one knows how to -- or whether we even should -- put it together again.