The answer is that:
There has been no U.S. Iran policy, only screaming at the ayotollahs and more recently President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who have been embolded thanks in large part to the U.S.'s removal of their chief antagonist, Saddam Hussein, and subsequent failure to secure Iraq against insurgents, some backed by Iran.Let me quickly add that Ahmadinejad and his ilk are wackos, albeit clever wackos, so it's not like Condi Rice could ring them up and suggest that she stop by for a spot of tea. But taking the long view -- as in the four-plus years since Bush first used the "axis of evil" line in a State of the Union speech -- the efforts to engage Iran have been half hearted, at best.
Meanwhile, the inability or unwillingness -- or both -- of the White House to think regionally and engage in a dialogue with Teheran, let alone Syria, who are Hezbollah's main sponsors, has contributed significantly to the Lebanon debacle and failure to broker a cease-fire.
Daniel Benjamin, who served on the National Security Council staff under President Clinton, has a go at this argument in a Slate analysis.
THE WAR NEXT TIMEWhile the U.S. has dropped the ball diplomatically, Rolling Stone magazine writer James Bamford asserts that the White House has long had a plan to invade Iraq.