I spent all last week traveling around a country in the Middle East that rhymes with "Shmisreal" getting a feel for how leaders and analysts there see the Arab Spring. In general, our Shmisraeli friends remain pessimistic about what has thus far taken place and the trends they see going forward. By contrast, I spent the past eight months looking at the Middle East as part of a team that included Bruce Jentleson, Melissa Dalton and Dana Stuster, and although we identified some real near-term concerns for the United States, we also indentified several potentially positive trends for the United States.
Please do me a favor and provide some meaning for my life by downloading the paper here.
The bottom line is that the United States can accept a lot more risk in the region than it has done over the past decade. (Aside from that whole "invading Iraq" thing, of course, which entailed more risk than many of us were comfortable with.) Reduced U.S. dependency on the states of the Gulf as well as the return of politics to the Arab world should both be positive trends for U.S. interests -- so long as U.S. policy makers play their cards right.
Again, read the report here.