“We made a huge mistake in crucifying my predecessor for being a ‘neocon’ and wanting to bring self-determination to the peoples of the Mideast, particularly the dysfunctional Arab states. It turns out George Bush was right, and I apologize for having acted stupidly in trashing him and his policies.

“Although I spent a fair amount of time apologizing for America in my speech in Cairo and elsewhere, I now recognize that we’re actually the best thing the Mideast has going for it. The Muslim world is in the midst of something between a religious reformation and a civil war, something that, despite our wishes to live in peace with all nations that respect our values, has drawn us in on the side of modernity, democracy, and tolerance. Although our policy has been almost comically wrongheaded for the last two years, I now see the light and will seek to strengthen the work President Bush began.

“As part of that, I hereby renounce my quixotic attempt to take out the dictator of Libya and urge our allies to finish that job while we focus on something far more important: The prevention — by force, if necessary — of the vicious Iranian theocrats from getting their hands on the bomb. Let me be clear about this. I say to Ayatollah Khamenei: Your rule is illegitimate and murderous, and you and your corrupt and brutal supporters must go. We realize that you’ve been conducting a low-level (and sometimes not so low-level) war against us for three decades now, and we’re putting you on notice that it must end immediately. We’re not Iran’s problem; your messianic Shi’ism, used as an excuse for harsh tyranny, is Iran’s, the region’s, and the world’s problem. We’ll be taking concrete steps to end that problem, which I’ll just sum up by saying: no more Mr. Nice Guy.

“And that brings me to Syria, where a corrupt and nasty minority regime holds sway over a country whose development has been stifled too long. President Assad, your crimes are great, and your time is over. We recognize that whatever succeeds your heinous rule could be problematic, but then again if President Bush was able to bring about a reasonably good outcome in Iraq in the wake of Saddam Hussein, and despite all the Democrats’ posturing and partisanship — spearheaded by me, unfortunately — we should be able to do the same with Syria.

“Saudi Arabia, your double game — professing friendship while funding efforts to undermine us through a worldwide campaign of militant jihadism — is no longer acceptable. If you really want jihad, we could give you much more than you’ve bargained for. Drop the passive-aggressiveness and decide which side you’re on. If you’re not with us, and not willing to prove that you’re stopping all support for Islamic radicalism, we’ll have to reconsider our relationship with a view toward major changes. We need your oil and don’t mind paying a reasonable price for it, but we might also reserve the right to put such payments in escrow while we work toward regime change … and while we pursue a crash program to develop oil and other resources on our own territory, by the way.