Mideast 'peace' a mirage
Barack Obama is being prompted by the right and left to re-engage and renew U.S. efforts to solve the core question of Middle East peace. Before he gets reinvolved in peacemaking, our once-burned president should ask himself some hard questions.
Is there any treaty that could be agreed to, or imposed, that would be acceptable to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, let alone to Hamas, which has emerged from its defiance of one of the most intensive bombardments of modern time with new prestige?
Would Bibi Netanyahu agree to a treaty that required removal of scores of thousands of Israeli settlers from Judea and Samaria, when he opposed Ariel Sharon's withdrawal of a few thousand settlers from Gaza?
Would Bibi agree to Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine as well as Israel, a non-negotiable demand of Arab nations?
A second roadblock is the correlation of forces in Washington.
Should Obama pressure Israel to remove settlers from the West Bank and accept a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, he would ignite a firestorm among evangelical Christians, the Israeli lobby, the neocons and a Congress that, not long ago, gave Bibi 29 standing ovations after he dressed-down Obama.
Another impediment is the altered environment between Israel and a newly radicalized Middle East.
Israel now looks north to a Lebanon where Hezbollah possesses more and better rockets than the metal-shop jobs Hamas fired off. Beyond lies a powerful Turkey, whose prime minister just declared Israel a "terrorist" state.
To the northeast lies Syria, where the 40-year truce on the Golan is unlikely to last after Bashar al-Assad falls and is replaced by a Sunni regime rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood.
To the east lies Jordan, wracked by riots, a monarchy that looks to be a candidate for an Arab Spring uprising.
To the south and west are Hamas, a Sinai that is a no man's land and an Egypt dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, millions of whose people would like to see the Israeli peace treaty trashed.
Israel is as isolated as she has been in a region that is more hostile to her presence than perhaps at any time since the war of '48.
And what does the U.S. have to show for decades of involvement in the Middle East?
Despite our "liberation" of Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya at a cost of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, despite plunging hundreds of billions into foreign aid, America's influence has never been lower.
We tie our own hands and wonder why we cannot succeed.
Today, as Obama is being pushed toward another futile round of peacemaking in the Mideast, prodded to intervene in the ethnic-civil-sectarian war in Syria and goaded to draw a "red line" for war on Iran, he should ask himself:
How would America's vital interests be imperiled by staying out of this particular quarrel, conflict or war? Why are all of these crises somehow ours to resolve? What are the odds that we can resolve them?
We are out of Iraq and leaving Afghanistan by 2014. Should we go back in or, as Obama pledged, do our "nation-building" here at home?
Pat Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"