Philip E. Auerswald of the George Mason University's Center and Science and Technology Policy has an interesting piece in the current issue of The American Interest (sub. req'd). In it, Auerswald argues that
the long-term importance of the Middle East is roughly proportionate to the share of the world population for which the region accounts--less than 5 percent. The time is long overdue for policymakers and analysts alike to put the many urgent issues that confront the people of the Middle East in the context of dramatic and unprecedented global transformations in process today. ...Any country that persists in focusing intently on peripheral concerns risks ultimately becoming peripheral itself. Even a massive power like the United States is not immune to such a fate.