The United States is backing off from the Middle East — and the Middle East from the United States.
America is in the midst of the greatest domestic gas and oil revolution since the early 20th century. If even guarded predictions about new North American reserves are accurate, over the next decade the entire continent may become energy-independent, with little need of petroleum imports from the Middle East.
This coincides with mounting Chinese dependency on Middle Eastern oil and gas. So as the Persian Gulf becomes less important to us, it grows even more critical to the oil-hungry, cash-laden — and opportunistic — Chinese.
After two wars in the Middle East, Americans are as tired of our forces being sent over there as Middle Easterners are of having us there.
The usual Arab complaint against the United States during the Cold War was that it supported anti-communist authoritarians in the oil-rich Gulf and ignored democratic reform. After the 1991 Gulf War, the next charge was that America fought Saddam Hussein only to free an oil-rich, pro-American monarchy in Kuwait, without any interest in helping reformists in either Kuwait or Iraq.