Robert Kaplan calls it “John Kerry’s Middle East Obsession,” and it goes like this:
Kerry, it seems, will be tied down in two major negotiations in coming months: one with the Russians about overseeing the elimination of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s chemical weapons, and the other with the Israelis and Palestinians to get them to agree on terms for a comprehensive peace. The first negotiation grants Russia a pivotal role in the Middle East, thereby undoing decades of American grand strategy — but now necessary to rescue President Barack Obama’s credibility after the president, in an undisciplined moment, threatened war over Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Oh, by the way, the deal is probably for the most part unworkable because of the logistical complexities of removing dozens of chemical weapons sites from a war zone. The second negotiation has only a small prospect of success, even as its strategic value for the United States is arguably over-rated: for the United States is already the dominant outside power in geographical Palestine, even without a peace treaty. Perhaps Kerry will get a reprieve of sorts if serious negotiations commence over Iran’s nuclear program; at least then he will be involved in a regional discussion that has undeniable value.
Kerry, to be sure, will likely be making official visits to other theaters, including Asia and Europe. But he will fool nobody in those regions.
This is the trouble nations get into when the leadership has no honest clue what their nation’s interests are. Kerry doesn’t have a Middle East obsession, so much as that’s where the headlines are — and Kerry is attracted to those like a moth to a flamethrower. It is impossible to forge a cohesive foreign policy under those conditions, much less a strategy for implementing it. The result is what you see before you: Reacting to events, and reacting badly.
Leadership? That’s for people who want to take you somewhere.
I was going to add more, but I’ll leave it here for now — and offer something of an apology. I’ve been trying to cover more gadget news and pop culture, because I don’t want this blog to denigrate into the Steve Hates Everything in Washington Show. Also, because it’s necessary for sanity’s sake to take a breather now and then from the constant carping at our elected officials. And at their appointed underlings. And at the whole sordid, expensive, ruinous mess of it all.
Crap. I’m doing it again. Who wants breakfast beer?