In the Middle East maelstrom, all parties acknowledge one fixed point: forceful US diplomatic engagement is essential if the central Israel-Palestine conflict is ever to be resolved.
But far from taking the lead over the past four years, the Bush administration has been mostly led by the nose. The man responsible for this extraordinary feat is Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon.
Mr Sharon was running a "war on terror" when George Bush was still running a baseball team in Texas. So not surprisingly, perhaps, it is Mr Bush who, since 9/11, has followed Mr Sharon's example rather than the other way round. In his many visits to the Bush White House, Mr Sharon has exerted telling influence on America's post-9/11 agenda. Knowing Mr Bush was bent on war in Iraq, he helpfully highlighted Saddam Hussein's links to terrorist groups and financial aid to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Now he eggs on the US in its confrontations with Israel's enemies, Iran and Syria.
It was Israel that, as far back as 1967, perfected the concept of pre-emptive war. It is Mr Sharon, not Mr Bush, who is the present master of the targeted assassination and mass detention without trial. It is Israeli military tactics that the US now apes in places like Falluja and Najaf.
Deeming him unreliable, Mr Sharon refused to deal with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat - and Mr Bush followed suit. His insistence on absolute security as a precondition for negotiations and his contemptuous dismissal of contrary UN and European views won support - and a broader, damaging emulation - in Washington.
Most of all, Mr Sharon's basic contention, that the homeland is under attack by ruthless forces bent on its utter destruction, has been adopted wholesale by Mr Bush and applied to the US itself. These politics of fear now form a central plank in his re-election platform.
Brent Scowcroft, the national security veteran, recently described Mr Bush as "mesmerised" by Israel's leader. And for the most part, it does indeed appear that Sharon policy is Bush policy, rather than vice versa.