Dr. Barry Rubin on the future of American policy in the Middle East

AT contributor and Middle East scholar Dr. Barry Rubin has an interesting take on the future of US-Israeli relations as well as some intelligent speculation on how American policy in the region will evolve.

Rubin is director of the
Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. The good news, he says, is that US-Israeli relations are on "firm footing." But peering into the future, Rubin sees US policy evolving in "two acts:"

The first act, which will take up the rest of this year and perhaps the early part of next year, will see a continuation of the effort at engagement which has had overtones of appeasement. But it will fail.

The heroes in this drama, by forcing Obama to shift in spite of himself, are Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and the Palestinian Authority, with supporting roles for Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and a number of Arab regimes.
They won't let Obama's original policy work.

They will ensure that
his popularity offensive bears no fruit.

They will be aggressive in Lebanon, showing openly their desire to take over the country and use it as a base for spreading radical Islamism.

Iran will continue going full-speed-ahead developing nuclear weapons, breaking any promises or commitments made to the United States.

Pakistan will not do more than the minimum against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Iran and Syria will continue sponsoring anti-American terrorism, including attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. Obama's plans for a withdrawal might actually increase such violence as Tehran and Damascus wants to make the U.S. departure look like a defeat.

Hamas will continue to be extreme, repressive in the Gaza Strip; eager to attack Israel.

The Palestinian Authority will not be helpful in advancing the peace process. Fatah, the Palestinian Authority's ruler will prefer trying to make peace with Hamas to making peace with Israel.

Syria will prefer its alliance with Iran to any rapprochement with the West.

(Follow the links in the above quote for some excellent analysis on each point.)

Then what? Rubin asks, "Is this administration capable of reacting to reality and becoming something quite different than how it began?" Once all of his high minded ideals about rapproachment with our enemies are shown to be nothing more than liberal fantasy, does Obama have the stuff to change course and start treating these regimes as enemies and impediments to peace?

The answer to that question may tell the tale of our times.