A US resolution to the Middle East conflict has become a national imperative and a logical necessity. Therefore it will happen.
At least it would if we lived in a world governed by logic…
I confess I don’t pay unswerving attention to everything that’s happening in Washington, so when I saw a headline in today’s New York Times, Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East, my first reaction was: Huh. Obama gave a speech on the Middle East and I never even heard it was scheduled. How about that?
Then I read the article to find out when and where he gave this speech but it wasn’t mentioned. Then I read the headline again. Aha! Caught again by those cunning New York Times headline writers – Obama speech, not Obama’s speech.
Why does the so-called newspaper of record have to be parsed as carefully as the Soviet Izvestia?
OK. So the speech in question turns out to be a phrase: “vital national security interest.” That being, the vital national security interest that will be served to the United States by a resolution to the Middle East conflict.
This does indeed mark an important shift in perspective. But here’s the real question: Will that shift in perspective lead to a significant shift in policy?
Generally speaking, to call something out as a “vital national security interest” should demand a bold course of action. You can’t point to a vital national security interest and then do little to address it, can you?
In the minds of many observers, the shift Obama has signaled, will almost inevitably lead to a US peace plan. “It increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to terms, will offer his own proposed parameters for an eventual Palestinian state,” the Times reported.
But did anything else Obama said at the same juncture indicate that he’s ready to act decisively? No.
Progress will be halting, Obama said. Indeed.
Moreover, and this might have been the most telling remark he made: “we can’t want it more than they do.”
So, if resolving the Middle East conflict is a vital national security interest of the United States, the US will nevertheless be held hostage by the willingness of the Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.
We must, but we can’t…
I guess it won’t become a campaign slogan.