Well, I would advise reading Yglesias' take on Lee Smith's take on Kenneth Pollack's new, uh, tome, A Path Out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East, in order to avoid both Kenneth Pollack and Lee Smith. Pollack, you may recall, is the guy who wrote The Threatening Storm; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, followed by The Persian Puzzle; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. His grand thesis, plainly put, is that we are strong, no one can tell us we're wrong, searching our hearts for so long, both of us knowing love is a battlefield. Lee Smith appears to be some kind of circus phlebotemist, or possibly a kind of Straussian tranny fag, such as it is--point being that he remains rather more of a mystery. As Yglesias notes, in any case, the quest to dominate the Middle East through force of arms or political transformation (through force of arms) or whathaveyou because, well, shit, we gots ta have the oil seems to lack any appreciable . . . appreciation for the old notion of weighing costs against benefits. After all, the fifty gazillion dollars a second we're spending in Iraq et al. could rebuild the fucking railroads in the You Ess uhv Ay. Also recall: Henley's Law states that the best, easiest, and cheapest way to acquire petroleum would be to buy it. Considering that the region's other major natural resource is fucking sand, one presumes they'll remain willing to sell. I was going to write a book myself, actually, outlining a grand strategy for America in the Middle East, but as brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief: quit invading countries and killing people in the Middle East. The beauty of this plan, dude, is its simplicity.