To listen to Obama you get the impression that he expects no progress in his second term. In fact, he reduced expectations pretty low:
And — and — and my goal here is just to make sure that the United States is a positive force in trying to create those opportunities as frequently as possible.
So this is Middle East policy in Obama’s second term: downplaying Israel-Palestinian issues; pushing for a new regime in Syria while disregarding the real dangers of producing a monster there; and trying to convince Israel to not attack Iran by insisting that all options are on the table, although his bluff will be called at some point.
On bilateral relations, this represents a gain for Israel, but it is still stuck in dealing with radical Arab regimes which U.S. policy is not going to confront — and which it even sees as friendly. Moreover, for the next year Israel will enjoy firm American rhetoric on Iran, but what if things come to a head? Obama’s hints and pledges could collapse like a house of cards once Tehran approaches a nuclear weapons arsenal.
Also, Obama now faces the situation of previous American presidents, a dilemma that he has long ridiculed.
The Saudis and Jordanians, along with some other countries, don’t care. But the Iranian, Turkish, and a number of Arab regimes (including the Palestinian Authority) are going to be outraged by what Obama just did and said. The Islamists will see this as a declaration of war — though of course they already viewed themselves as in a state of war with America. The Cairo speech will be spit upon; all the efforts to distance himself from Israel and to create a new orientation for U.S. policy have failed.
Obama is now — on matters directly regarding Israel — a typical American president. The idea that Obama made policy out of raw hatred against Israel should be put to rest. Nevertheless, the incompetence and the deluded strategy toward Islamists still remains, as does the dangerous situation for U.S. interests that Obama has helped create. Fireworks will no doubt occur during Obama’s second term.
PS: Palestinian anti-Obama demonstrations showed the “gratitude” amassed for Obama’s previous support by branding him a Zionist, imperialist running dog. But one detail drew my close attention: the demonstrators sang a song called “America is the head of the snake.”
That’s the song then-PLO leader Yasir Arafat led in singing at the Palestine National Council meeting almost 45 years ago.
After 45 years of effort, and especially the last 23 years in which America tried to help create a Palestinian Arab state, it has made zero progress toward winning Palestinian support or recognition of America’s aid and efforts. The same story, of course, will be reproduced regarding Obama’s efforts to show his respect for Islam and his empathy for Islamism.