The three most dangerous issues that confront U.S. national interests in the Middle East, President Obama pointed out in his Sept. 23, 2013, speech at the United Nations, are Syria’s civil war, the nuclear stand-off with Iran, and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza
With this week’s agreement to begin direct negotiations with Iran, and the joint U.S.-Russian deal to force Syria to destroy its chemical weapons, President Obama has significantly increased the odds of resolving two of them. And he has set the stage for finally ending the impasse on the long festering Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
Whether one thinks the turn of events in Syria and Iran were stage managed by the Obama team, or as many of his critics claim the lucky result of a muddled and fumbling U.S. policy, the fact remains that the Obama administration is on the cusp of engineering a major reset of the Middle East’s geopolitical landscape…
United States’ intelligence agencies and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are still not certain the Syrian government of President Assad has used chemical weapons against its opposition. Nothing has yet emerged from France, Germany or Britain to unequivocally confirm this charge either. But the clamor among the hawkish segment of Washington lawmakers to get the United States involved militarily in Syria gets louder by the day.
After all, why let facts come in the way of another display of American military shock and awe…
It would be a mistake to view President Obama’s visit to Israel as just a fence-mending exercise. It is in fact part of a planned redesign of U.S. foreign policy that will change the face of American leadership around the world.
The redesign began with the appointment of John Kerry as Secretary of State and Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Both complement Vice President Joe Biden, and the president’s new chief of staff, Dennis McDonough. All of them, I believe, share a keen understanding of what it means to live in a world of 7 billion interconnected people, in an age where the basic equation of geopolitics, that superpower = ultimately getting ones way, no longer holds.