In 2006, U.S. Representative Jim Leach of Iowa introduced a resolution urging President George W. Bush to appoint a "Special Envoy for Middle East Peace." The resolution said, in part, that "history has demonstrated that the Middle East region is likely to lurch from crisis to crisis without sustained diplomatic and economic engagement by the United States."
In an interview March 24, Leach amended that statement. "I would say not only without our engagement, [but] ... with or without our engagement."
That revision is a reflection of all that has happened in just the past few years: the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine; developments regarding Iran's nuclear program; the Arab Spring; turmoil in Egypt; and the Syrian civil war - the last of which has grown more complicated given newly escalated tension between Russia and the West.
It also hints at a frustration Leach clearly has with American foreign policy in the region - and not merely the long, costly war with Iraq.
So when Leach presents his lecture "What is Old, New, & Unprecedented in America's Relationships with the Middle East" on April 10, he'll have a lot to talk to about. (The speech is the first public event of St. Ambrose University's new Middle East Institute.) But don't expect many answers.