Having served on many foreign policy committees and panels during my 34 years in Congress and for years afterward, I vividly recall that American policymakers continually devoted a great deal of time and effort to challenges in the Middle East.

Much of this was during the Cold War and its aftermath, when the U.S.-Soviet conflict involved existential issues of war and peace, arms control and nuclear proliferation. Yet day after day, leading national security officials were consumed with Middle Eastern affairs.