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Jeffrey Goldberg

Hagel Falls Into the Israel-Palestinian Trap

When Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talked to me last week about the broad challenges facing the U.S. in the Middle East, one question loomed over the conversation: What does the Barack Obama administration believe the U.S.’s overarching strategic interests to be?

When Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talked to me last week about the broad challenges facing the U.S. in the Middle East, one question loomed over the conversation: What does the Barack Obama administration believe the U.S.'s overarching strategic interests to be?

As I wrote in thefirst part of this post, the administration's approach to the Middle East is, at the moment, a pudding without a theme. There are good reasons this is so: Each high-maintenance country presents its own intractable and contradictory set of problems. Because of the current muddle, most -- actually, all -- of America's allies are trapped in a state of anxiety, unsure whether the U.S. is their friend or if it wants to be friends with Iran instead or if it even knows at all what it wants to do.