My latest column, which appears in today's print editions of Gulf News and is now available here at, takes President Obama's coming trip to the Middle East as a starting point and asks Arab readers (and readers who care about the US-Arab relationship) to think what, exactly, they would like to see from the US administration in the next few years.

As I say in the piece, however, there's a caveat: I'm interested in attainable goals - difficult is fine, but attainable - not wish lists. Please don't tell me that the US must alter its entire attitude toward Israel and the Palestinians because that simply is not going to happen (one could further argue that with Netanyahu in power an about-face wouldn't do much good anyway - but that's a separate discussion). Let's think about things the Arab World can ask of America that America might - just might - be willing and politically able to do.

As my latest column for Gulf News outlines, the really fascinating thing about last week's Hagel hearing, for me at least, was the evidence it offered that America's Vietnam-bred political demons have not been vanquished... they have merely evolved.

Not only was it depressing to hear so many of the real issues facing the next SecDef get any airing, but the essential backward-looking nature of the day was just sad.