The title from this issue of Foreign Affairs struck me as rather odd, in particular the subtitle “New Challenges Call for New Policies. Are the U.S. and Israel Ready to Change Course?” (September/October 2010) The U.S. has been trying to remake the Middle East for quite a few decades now as it gradually took over the role of the British and French as the local imperial power.
The first article “Beyond Moderates and Militants – How Obama can Chart a New Course in the Middle East” struck me as a non-starter as Obama has done nothing to do away with Bush’s heritage and has extended it further east with another surge into Afghanistan and incursions and covert actions into Pakistan. The authors introduce Obama with what I perceive as an error in that “the Obama administration has rejected…the worldview of the Bush administration.” Perhaps rhetorically with vague talk about change and hope, neither of which offer any practical solutions, leaving Obama’s actions to speak for themselves: unconditional support for Israel; kowtowing to AIPAC; supporting military occupation as a theoretical means to bring peace into the region; and basically not challenging any of the previous actions of the Bush administration. His appointees in a variety of positions within the executive are mainly from the previous Bush and Clinton administrations.