In another twist in the changing politics of the Middle East, Juan Cole cheers Bush:

The decision by the Administration to send William Burns, the State Department’s third ranking official and a career diplomat, to participate in the five power talks with Iran over its nuclear activities, certainly invites speculation as to how far the Administration has changed its policies regarding Iran...

The decision to send Burns certainly was made by President Bush, who certainly is well aware of the controversy it will arouse domestically from his own partisans and is also well aware of the thus-far successful North Korean model. He also would know that his decision undercuts John McCain’s position on Iran and his claim to superior experience, and validates Barack Obama’s judgment favoring the negotiating track. The President must also know that the multilateral process will take time to unfold and any useful results might not be realized until after his term in office. So, for a change, cheers for George Bush.

I have a feeling that historians will look at the Bush administration in three periods: pre-9/11, 2002 - 2006, and 2006 - 2009. The finish is looking stronger, as Gates and Rice and Petraeus And Hill consolidate the new array of forces the first term created.

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