The Saudi monarchy is fighting for survival, against Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood organized on the model of 20th-century totalitarian parties, and against Iran. Iran is fighting for survival; after its fertility rate fell from 7 children per female in 1979 to just 1.7 today, today’s youth bulge will turn into an unsupportable elderly dependent ratio. Egypt is fighting to pay the grocer’s bill every day. It is not within America’s or anyone’s power to reverse this decline. Putin understands this and exploits their struggle for survival. I have advocated a Richelovian foreign policy on behalf of American interests; now we watch helplessly as Russia pursues such a policy in its own interest. Fair is fair: Putin has more brains and insight than anyone in the American foreign policy establishment, and he is winning by laps rather than lengths. I have no objection to the ritual denunciations of Russia in the conservative media, but a bit of reflection on why Russia runs circles around us might also be in order.

Last month I heard George W. Bush address a large Jewish gathering. He complained about the growing isolationist mood in America. Does it occur to him, or to the punditeska that egged on his “freedom agenda,” that the source of isolationism is the utter failure of our utopian efforts in the Middle East and revulsion at their human and economic costs?