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• Ignored the obvious 9/11 anniversary threat in anarchic Libya and Egypt, helping bring on death and defeat in the events of recent days.

• And, most of all, continue to belittle America’s superior force as a main determinant of international relations and the ultimate asset in any diplomatic effort.

There will be no easy road back to even marginal stability in the Middle East, not least because of the inability and cowardice of the region’s political class to move into the modern era.

But while the overwhelming Arab economic and social problems remain, Iran’s nuclear programs must remain Washington’s paramount concern. Suggestions from the usual suspects that some sort of compromise might be achieved, allowing Tehran nuclear weapons capability in exchange for Iran’s voluntary halt short of weaponization, only threaten further catastrophe. Past Iranian performance hardly lends credibility to such an arrangement.

When American policymakers again pick up the ball, whether it is this president or Mitt Romney, a publicly proclaimed red line for Iran backed by sincere mobilization of all our resources is the only U.S. policy that can begin to stabilize the region. That decision awaits, with even more horrendous events in the offing if such a policy reversal is not undertaken — and quickly.

Sol Sanders, a veteran international correspondent, writes weekly on the intersection of politics, business and economics. He can be reached at solsanders@cox.net and blogs at www.yeoldecrabb.wordpress.com.