How much more crow is George W Bush supposed to eat?
In 2003 the administration set out an agenda postulating that there were a series of "bad guys"- Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba- that the global community would have to isolate and overthrow, the so-called "axis of evil".
In 2006, after the catastrophic failure to cope with the consequences of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, the Administration is now proposing to put the fate of Iraq, and by remove, US foreign policy into the hands of the Iranian and Syrian regimes.
Syria is led by the hereditary dictator for life, Bashar al-Assad. Baby Assad is an interesting personality- a trained doctor with a specialism in ophthalmology, he studied at the University of London, where he met his wife, Asma, who was born and brought up in the UK. He never expected to inherit power from his wily father Hafez, but the death of his elder brother, Basil, put him in harms way. Initially Bashar was thought of as a liberal, but the "Damascus spring" has ground to a halt. Meanwhile the setback to Syrian control over Lebanon following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri also created new pressures upon the Assad regime, rooted as it is upon the minority Alawite group- despite the fact that the Presidents wife is a Sunni Moslem. Despite the sinister and corrupt leaders of the Ba'ath Party grouped around Al-Assad, the secular regime in Damascus is rational, albeit that it harbours some of the most dangerous extremists in the various conflicts across the Arab world.
Iran, by contrast, is an altogether more dangerous foe. The President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, represents a very radical faction inside the country- he is believed to have been one of the students that took hostage the Americans for 444 days at the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. Whether this is true or not, it certainly is true that Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier who leads a government determined to acquire nuclear weapons.
These dangerous and unsavoury regimes are now being courted by Britain and America in order to provide cover for the withdrawal of coalition troops.
It is the final ignominy.
It reveals completely the catastrophe of Western humiliation in the Middle East. Blair will doubtless cling to office until Spring of 2007, while Bush will be in office until January 2009.
Their epitaph will be failure. Bush will be remembered as the worst President since the death of Warren G. Harding, whose own verdict on himself was: "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here". As for Blair, his legacy will be more complicated- but no less a failure for what might have been.