Washington's lack of a plan to confront the spread of radical Islam looms as an epoch-defining failure.
What would it look like if America actually had a Middle East strategy?
To begin with, of course, it would hardly look like what we are seeing today. At the moment, we are confronted with an unprecedented region wide series of crises that are each seemingly being treated by U.S. policymakers as though they were unrelated. American responses to each have been reactive, typically veering between the passive and the inadequate. While there has been lots of rumination about what could go wrong if we embraced risky or bad policies, there has been less focus on how to actually achieve our goals and seemingly precious little thought given to the consequences of our inaction. In short, at a particularly fraught moment in a dangerous and vital part of the world we seem to be without a clear vision or a plan for achieving it.