But the gravest oversight in Dr. Cook’s encomium is to assume that the vacuum left by American blundering will continue indefinitely. A brief item from the Middle East News Service indicates how wrong this is:

Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Song Aiguo said the investment volume between his country and Egypt hit 10 billion dollars in 2013. Speaking at a joint press conference with the Egyptian tourism minister in Hurghada, he said the two-way investment will grow as China lifted its travel warning for Egypt in December. He said 3,000 Chinese tourists visited Egypt last month.

More to the point, Egypt and China earlier this month signed an $800 million memorandum of understanding for the construction of high-speed rail from the country’s northern borders down to Aswan. China will invest $1.5 trillion in Africa during the next 15 years by some estimates, and Egypt is the land bridge to Africa.  Egypt will be a spur on the New Silk Road that China is building from Beijing to the Bosphorus.

After three years of hallucinations about the future of the Middle East, we have woken up to a different world with a new set of players and a new set of problems. We have dealt ourselves out of the game and appear condemned to watch helplessly as others play — or, more likely, not to watch at all, for the foreign policy establishment seems oblivious to the great changes around them. The only consolation is that we no longer will require the services of Egypt experts at our thinktanks.