Who “lost” the Middle East? That should be one of the main issues that needs be addressed during this election campaign. As I discussed in my new Bush Visits His “New” Middle East, the implementation of President Bush’s neo-conservative agenda in the Middle East — the bizarre fusion of crude imperialism and democracy promotion, what I once described as “Queen Victoria marries Woodrow Wilson” — has led to a dramatic erosion in American influence in the region.

As I note, the most recent developments in the Persian Gulf, the Levant and the Holy Land — the Iranian brokered deal between Maliki’s Shiite government in Baghdad and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s militias (both players maintain close ties with Tehran); the agreement to end the fighting in Lebanon, which has strengthened the power of Hizbollah; the decision by Israel to negotiate with Syria through Turkish mediation depsite American opposition; and the continuing failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian deal — are all indications that the era of Pax Americana in the Middle East is coming to an end.

The time has come to reassess U.S. policy in the region. Check-out Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East for some ideas.