Does the Obama administration have the only view worth having on the Middle East?

Reporting on the perception that “U.S. policies there are partly to blame for the spreading anarchy” in the Middle East, Michael Crowley writes:

Ultimately, senior Obama officials say, there are limits to what the U.S. can accomplish in the region. They argue that the chaos is fueled by ethnic and religious forces largely beyond America’s control.

And they warn against overreacting to the roller coaster of daily news headlines in an area that rarely knows calm.

“There’s a sense that the only view worth having on the Middle East is the long view,” said the State Department official. “We’ve painfully seen that good can turn to bad and bad can turn to good in an instant, which might be a sobriety worth holding on to at moments like this.”

The official offered a hopeful note, adding that a nuclear deal with Iran — which some reports say could come as soon as Sunday — could be a turning point for the region.

“The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region,” the official said.

Let’s suppose that Obama seals the deal with Iran, it probably will be a legacy-setting accomplishment and true to form, like every other president facing the end of his second term, Obama is no doubt increasingly concerned about his legacy.

But if he thinks this accord is really going to be a game-changer, I’m not so sure he’s holding on to the “long view” — unless “long” is supposed to mean all the way until he leaves office. Or, to put it another way, unless inside the Obama administration what they mean when they talk about the long view is, all the way until this mess becomes someone else’s mess.

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