2. Keep Obama from damaging Israel’s situation in regard to the Palestinians
Obama will have to decide whether to put an emphasis on the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” meaning pressure on Israel to make concessions while the Palestinian Authority (PA) doesn’t keep its commitments and makes no compromises. He might decide to do so based on his ideological predispositions.
Yet there is some evidence that Obama won’t behave this way. His failure on peacemaking is the only such defeat he has ever acknowledged. He knows it is hard and the administration almost certainly knows — though it will never admit it publicly — that what Mitt Romney said was right. The PA doesn’t want to make a peace deal with Israel.
Moreover, there have been interesting developments regarding the main strategic motive for the idea that a peace deal is necessary as soon as possible and requires pressure on Israel. This factor is called “linkage” — the concept that bashing Israel and getting the Palestinians a state as soon as possible will solve all of America’s other problems in the Middle East. Once this is accomplished, Muslims and Arabs will love the United States and — more importantly in one man’s mind — Obama.
What’s important here is not just that linkage doesn’t work, but that this reality has never before been so obvious. With anti-Americanism and crisis coming from all directions — Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and so on — will Obama see bashing Israel as a panacea?
There’s no question that during his first term, especially the first two years or so, Obama really believed this and tried very ineptly to institute such a strategy. Yet he knows it didn’t work. At any rate, if faced with such a situation, the Israeli government is quite capable of offering cooperation, giving on relatively unimportant issues, stalling for time, and essentially calling the PA’s bluff. In the end, nothing will happen.
The dangers of an Obama second term certainly exist regarding the first two points, but it is the second pair of issues that are really and truly dangerous.
3. How would Obama handle the regional Arab situation and threats from revolutionary Islamist forces that he has helped to unleash and even to put into power?
In my view, the number one danger Israel faces is not Iran, but Egypt.