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…
It is a truth universally acknowledged (my apologies to Jane Austen) that the removal of a country’s elected leader by its military is deemed a military coup. So while I agree with President Obama’s pragmatic refusal to so label the recent overthrow of Egypt’s President Morsi, this finesse of terminology had better be a temporary equivocation.
Robert Morgenthau, the legendary Manhattan District Attorney, used to have a framed Oliphant cartoon in his office. It comically depicted the attempt by the newly inaugurated President Nixon to fire Morgenthau, a Democrat, from his then position as U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York, arguably the most influential federal jurisdiction in the country. Morgenthau refused, until he was sure Nixon would replace him with someone who would be non-partisan and of a caliber that this office with its wide remit including Wall Street traditionally demands. The hilarious cartoon’s frames begin with a fiery Nixon giving a direct order to Morgenthau to leave and then transitions through succeeding frames after the D.A. refuses the president’s direct order, to the final frame that has Nixon finally begging him to leave.
The situation in Syria now appears to resemble the mid-point of the Oliphant cartoon…