The article gives three reasons why the US will keep its attention on the Middle East:
- "American attention is inevitably concentrated on the regions where its troops are fighting, and sometimes dying."
- "[T]he consequences of a botched policy in that area are so serious."
- "[T]he American public is deeply divided about what to do about Iraq and beyond."
- To paraphrase from a previous issue of the magazine: American presidents cannot stand chaos in the Middle East.
The article offers a path for US foreign policy in Iraq that it thinks any new US president should adopt. The article advocates redefining America's mission in Iraq and redefining what victory in Iraq means. With victory in Iraq, American attention can focus Iran and Palestine. The article subtly advocates for Barack Obama saying that he is the only one who "talks about the possibility of dealing with the country directly," and the article suggests that this could set the stage for a "grand bargain" which could be fundamental in bringing peace to the region.
Dealing with the Middle East, rather than our potential rivals, China and Russia, is fine for the short term, but Russia and China are liable to be more serious potential problems than the Middle East. Here are the article's easy summaries of Russia and China:
"America's relations with Russia are likely to get even cooler than they are now."China
"Russia is becoming increasingly anti-American as well as increasingly autocratic."
"Russia is furious about America's ambitions to extend its missile shield. America is furious about the way that Russia uses the superpower's problems in the Middle East to extend its own influence and forge anti-American alliances."
"America is getting more anxious about China's growing economic might. Anti-Chinese sentiment in America is already strong. Democrats in Congress are preparing to hammer China over counterfeit goods, product safety and exchange-rate policy. The media have been a-twitter with stories about poisoned pet food, tainted toothpaste and lead-painted toys. America's trade deficit with China has been rising relentlessly (see chart 4). Many critics argue that China is trying to cheat its way to economic success, keeping its currency artificially low to give Chinese products an unfair advantage, creating barriers to keep out American goods and allowing producers to operate largely outside the law."The tune might be changing a bit with a new president, but it sure would be swell if we could change our whole foreign policy band from the simple pop of the Monkees to the multi-layered and complex rock of Led Zeppelin.
"America's Sinophobia could be magnified by the Beijing Olympics in August."
"America, in short, will come face to face with a country that might become its greatest rival in the 21st century. Although some of the forecasts are over the top, China's economic growth is certainly remarkable; and economic growth is inevitably accompanied by growing political clout."