If it bleeds, it leads: announcing bin Laden’s death, Kabul, May 2011. 
AHMAD MASOOD / REUTERS

When the Obama administration looks at the Middle East, it does so through the lens of counterterrorism. A systematic emphasis on the subject has underscored not just the administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda and its new focus on the self-proclaimed Islamic State (or ISIS) but also a wider swath of its foreign policy, from its drone campaign in northwestern Pakistan to its maintenance of the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Building on the post-9/11 efforts of the Bush administration, U.S. President Barack Obama has established a national security machine adept at identifying and disrupting terrorist

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