Walter Russell Mead: America is Stuck with the Mideast

Roundup: Historians' Take

Mr. Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College. His blog, Via Meadia, appears at the American Interest Online.

The Middle East is on fire. As waves of populist, ethnic and religious unrest sweep the region, long-established regimes totter like ninepins, violent conflicts explode in once-quiet countries, and all the rules seem up for grabs.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is on life support and Iran is marching steadily toward obtaining a nuclear weapon. And even as President Obama assures us that he has Israel's back and "will not countenance" Iran getting a nuclear weapon, as he did this week, his administration speaks about "leading from behind" and of a "pivot toward Asia."

Many observers see all this as reflecting a sharp decline in American power. But the reality is more complicated and less dramatic. The reality is that the United States remains the paramount power in the region and will remain committed to it for a long time to come...

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