The geopolitical frame is a necessary but insufficient means to understand the contemporary Middle East. Defining the term in its original, fairly narrow, way puts the analytical spotlight on the Westphalian units—namely, states—that compose the classical modern international system. But those states’ lack of decisional agency is itself at the core of the region’s instability. As for the region, its troubles are likely to persist for some time. Outsiders cannot fix it; at best, if they are skillful and lucky, they can contain it.