The US diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks over the past week are riddled with nostalgia for a defunct era. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak suggests the US overthrow Iraq's elected government and find a new dictator; the Israelis want General Pervez Musharraf restored to power in Pakistan; and Saudi Arabia's king is said to want the US to attack Iran.
None of this is going to happen, of course, because the United States of 2010 is not the United States of 2001, much less the Cold War hegemon of yore. The WikiLeaks documents read as dispatches of a great empire chronicling its decline, challenged not only by rivals, but also by those once deemed its satraps.
Nowhere is the shift more evident than in the case of Turkey.
Ankara broke dramatically with the US in 2003, when Turkey's parliament voted that Turkish territory could not be used for the invasion of Iraq. Turkey, its government long dominated by the military, had joined the US in military expeditions from the Korean War to the invasion of Afghanistan. Now, a democratic Turkey, governed by a party with roots in moderate political Islam, was simply saying "no".
More rebuffs followed. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly rebuked Israel's President Shimon Peres and his country's attack on Gaza, and his government also backed the flotilla protest against Israel's collective-punishment blockade of the territory. And Turkey broke publicly with the US on Iran, opposing further sanctions and undertaking its own diplomatic efforts to broker a compromise in the nuclear stand-off.
One cable from the US embassy in Ankara lamented Washington's "loss of control" in the relationship, and another described the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, the architect of the new foreign policy doctrine, as an "exceptionally dangerous" man. Mr Davutoglu, visiting Washington last week, responded with a grin. "Yes, I'm extremely dangerous for those who want to have instability in our region," he told journalists.
Mr Davutoglu believes neither Turkey's nor the region's - or even America's and Israel's - best interests are served by it continuing to serve as a passive "wing state" of the western alliance. Instead, he argues, Turkey's foreign policy must be based on history and geography, justice and stability, and a willingness to challenge a US approach to key conflicts that is simply not viable.
Some US officials express alarm at what they call a "neo-Ottoman" perspective, but Turkey's historical understanding of the region, and its policy of seeking solutions that integrate all stakeholders, clearly has its advantages. When the Americans arrived in Baghdad, the historical experience on which they based their efforts to stand up a post-Saddam government was the US occupation of Japan and Germany in 1945 - some planning documents used by American viceroy J Paul Bremer were adapted directly from the German experience, one even containing references to "reichmarks".
Turkey's location at the fulcrum between Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia gives it an opportunity to expand trade and influence far greater than that allowed by an exclusive focus on Nato partners.
Turkey's concerns with justice and stability also make it diverge from the US, whose handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict show no signs of delivering either. Washington continues to approach the region as a zero-sum conflict between "moderates" and "radicals" - a battle that the US and its allies have, frankly, been losing. Turkey, as a longtime friend of Israel, feels able to say the things that Israel needs - but doesn't want - to hear. And it sees stability as requiring that the concerns of all stakeholders, including those ignored in the US - such as Iran, Syria and Hamas - be addressed.
Ankara's new independence has provoked alarm, particularly among the Israelis and their advocates, who charge that Turkey has crossed over to the Iranian side. But that's silly. Just this past weekend, Turkey, unprompted, sent firefighting aircraft to help Israel battle a killer blaze, prompting Israel to seek to repair diplomatic relations. Turkey will help Israel, but will also challenge its behaviour - and the region would be better off if the US did the same.
The US cables also reveal that Turkey is hardly in Iran's camp. It is concerned enough to oppose Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons, but recognises its right to the full nuclear fuel-cycle. Indeed, Ankara has pressed Tehran to compromise with the West over a nuclear fuel-swap deal. But as one of the other cables notes, "Turkey's top civilian and military officials may have come to the conclusion that a military strike against Iran would be more harmful for Turkey's interests than Iran gaining a nuclear weapons capability; they believe international pressure against Iran only helps to strengthen [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and the hard-liners."
At the same time, Turkey remains committed in Afghanistan, and it is helping the US in Pakistan. It has brokered the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement, and while it wouldn't help the US get into Iraq, it appears likely to allow the US to use its territory to depart.
When Turkey stands up to Israel, it wins the support of the Arab street, whose own leaders are often silent and quiescent. Surveys find that Mr Erdogan has eclipsed Mr Ahmadinejad as the leader most popular among the Arab public for that very reason.
Being a democracy, of course, Turkey can't discount public opinion to support the US in the way that the moderate Arab regimes do. As a cable from the former US ambassador James Jeffrey explaining Turkey's new foreign policy puts it, "At the end of the day, we will have to live with a Turkey whose population is propelling much of what we see."
Tony Karon is a New York-based analyst. Follow him on Twitter @TonyKaron