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The Middle East Predicament

Courtesy Reuters

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

The United States has had critical interests in the Middle East for as long as it has been a global power. Securing the flow of the region's oil to the world economy has always been a central priority. During the Cold War, competition with the Soviet Union for Middle Eastern allies was another. And helping to protect Israel while keeping the Arab-Israeli conflict from escalating to Armageddon has long been a third. Still, even as Washington dealt with crises ranging from Iranian hostage-taking to Iraqi aggression to Arab-Israeli fighting, its main foreign policy agenda has generally focused elsewhere, such as in Europe or Asia. Now, for the first time in U.S. history, that is no longer true.

As George W. Bush's new administration surveys U.S. interests and threats to them, it will find that its principal concerns now emerge from the Middle East, broadly

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