JtA: Post-war US policy towards the Middle East has often been far more insipid than the events describes in the book.
I think a crucial component in this regard is the introduction of oil into the equation. Considering oil is the life blood of our economy and the military industrial complex that enforces and protects it...it is clear that control of Oil is of absolute importance. This importance exceeds any stated moral, legal or ideological values and becomes a justifier of the terrific injustice and, as you state, insipid
Actually, it has intensified the stupidity of the players: blinding them to options and alternatives that might serve them better, if they were willing to lessen their dependecy upon Crude.
A useful guide to this ugly and dangerous history of US foreign policy in the Middle East is Stephen Shalom's Middle East Timeline
JtA: In both of those cases, the US should have been better informed and capable of seeing the negative consequences of their decisions.
I think an important part of this involves the goal (US Hegemony of Energy Resources) in the region; thus even if the intelligence was spot-on, the goal would blind policy makers to some pieces, overaccentuate others, and outright fabricate information when needed.
It seems as though as long as control of energy resources was maintained, any
decision was/is appropriate.