Bottom line, in my opinion not much has changed in the Middle East since 9-11. Our efforts to remake Afghanistan failed and the Taliban is still basically in charge. Iraq is calm but not the vibrant country envisioned by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Iran is still a constant threat and much more powerful since 9-11. In fact the US now tiptoes around so as not to start a conflict. Syria is an absolute disaster given our goal was to remove Assad from power. We now have Russia as Assad's big brother protecting him. It also puts Russia in the position we wanted which was to be the peace maker. So what happened was the foreign policy objectives wrong or were the Flag officers to incompetent to achieve?