The Corner

Metrics for the Remainder of the Obama Presidency

From the Washington Post:

[Obama] said that for the remainder of his time in office, his Middle East policy efforts would focus on resolving the controversy surrounding Iran’s nuclear program and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace. . . .

Obama outlined specifically how he believes the world should work together on Syria, beginning with the quick passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution enforcing a still-tenuous agreement for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapon arsenal, which U.S. officials say he recently used against his own people. . . .

The U.S president issued a stern warning to Iran — saying, “We will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction” — even as he acknowledged that his administration and a new government in Tehran are exploring the prospects of improved relations.

So Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian–Israeli conflict are Obama’s top foreign-policy or national-security issues. That implies that his presidency will be measured largely by his success or failure on these portfolios. I would argue that no progress is currently being made on any of them. I am usually reluctant to offer predictions, but in this case I’ll make an exception:

Iran: Negotiations will go on and on, round and round with Obama’s negotiators apt to make concessions –for little or nothing in return. In the end, if Iran’s jihadist rulers are to be stopped from achieving a nuclear-weapons capability, it will be up to Israel to stop them.

Syria: Assad will get away with a blatant act of state terrorism and will hide a substantial amount of his stockpile of chemical weapons. The civil war will continue with Shia-backed jihadists fighting Sunni-backed jihadists — and a dwindling group of Syrian nationalists orphaned and marginalized

The Palestinian–Israeli conflict: It will not be resolved anytime soon. No Palestinian leader has a mandate to offer compromises or agree to end the war — no matter what the Israelis put on the table. That is the crux of the matter — and too few diplomats, journalists, and analysts are even willing to acknowledge it.

I hope I will be proven wrong on all of this.

Clifford D. May — Clifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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