In my column this week for Antiwar.com I expressed fascination and more than a little puzzlement that Obama is pressing so hard on the Israel-Palestine issue. The smart thing, I would have thought, would have been to let George Mitchell diddle around for a while and not invest Obama's personal capital in a two-state outcome that is among the least likely developments I can imagine, a trap that has lured every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter and left all with egg on their faces.
Stratfor.com also tries to puzzle through what it views as a major change in U.S. policy -- actually pushing Israel on West Bank settlements rather then the empty formal criticisms previous administrations have made. It thinks it will somehow enhance Obama's ability to deal with Muslim countries no matter how it turns out, but I find myself still puzzled about just what sort of concrete gains Obama thinks he will reap. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a little hubris of the sort that develops when people have an inflated sense of their own capacities and very little knowledge of the situation they're getting themselves into in operation there