President Obama claims he inherited a mess in the Middle East. Not so.
Fracking and horizontal drilling on private lands in the U.S. had taken off in the last years of the Bush administration and by 2009 were set to revolutionize America’s energy future. By 2011, the U.S. had cut way back its dependence on Middle Eastern gas and oil imports, which in turn gave American diplomats a measure of immunity from petro-blackmail, and therefore far more clout in the region. Iraq was mostly stable; in Anbar Province tens of thousands of jihadists had been killed by U.S. troops and their tribal allies. Iran’s scope was limited by a new moderate axis of Sunni states, Israel, and the United States. A bruised Hezbollah faced a huge rebuilding tab in southern Lebanon. Libya was beginning to shed at least some of its bizarre past. The Palestinians had no desire for another Intifada. The Middle East was looking to the U.S. for leadership, inasmuch as the surge in Iraq had regained respect for American arms and determination.