Obama promises both to usher in a new age for diplomacy and make America less arrogant. He and his supporters imply that the problem these last eight years is that Bush’s intransigence caused the Middle East to be a mess and that diplomacy can undo sectarian and ethnic animosity, renewed religious extremism, and an end to terrorism and proliferation. The irony, here, is that by assuming both the problem and solution lie in the White House, Obama exerts the same sort of Washington navel-gazing which both chafes people in the Middle East and is harnessed by them to their own advantage.
Case in point: Already the Obama camp is talking about diplomacy with Syria. Diplomats optimistically speak of how we can ‘flip’ Syria, bringing it out of Iran’s orbit and into our own. These self-described realists submerge themselves in the fantasy that diplomacy is a panacea. It is not.
A short essay on why Syria cannot be flipped.