We need to hold the Administration to their word; reform of Saudi Arabia and the various gulf states is just as important, and perhaps more so, than dealing with Syria and Iran. It is not by accident that the most pro-American population can be found in Iran, and the most anti perhaps in Saudi Arabia. The most popular explanation that I have seen is that the Iranians appreciate American opposition to their hated mullahs, while the Saudis hate the U.S. for proping up their corrupt leadership.
The BBC, of course, has it exactly backwards; Rice doesn't represent the "same old" State Department, she represents a new and tougher one, and one that's closer to the President's views. The fact that she also has more personal charisma than Powell makes her that much stronger as a stateswoman - and it is exactly this subtle strength that will be needed when dealing with the Europeans.
(Can anyone say "soft power"?)