The Iraq War emboldened hawks in the United States and Iran. Increasingly obsessed with each other, they shunned pragmatism for an ideology of confrontation which saw both sides expend political and economic capital they could not afford for ambitions that were beyond them.
Iraq is as volatile as it was after the fall of Saddam in 2003. Politics are fought along sectarian lines, and grievances run deep. Nevertheless, Iraq remains united and has the potential to be a regional, and democratic, powerhouse.
The US President visits the Gulf amidst heightened tension between the United States and Iran. But the latest episode in the Straits of Hormuz only underlines the wariness towards both countries by Gulf Arab States.
An analysis of the means the US should employ in its policy towards Iran's nuclear ambitions. A combination of sticks, carrots and diplomacy might serve Washington's aims better than sanctions and rhetorical brinksmanship.