by Greg Sheridan
US President Barack Obama has decided to abandon any serious effort to prevent
This is the shifting tectonic plate in the
This is the giant story of the past few weeks which the world has largely missed, distracted by the theatre of the absurd of Obama's contrived and mock confrontation with Israel over 1600 apartments to be built in three years' time in a Jewish suburb in East Jerusalem.
In the Middle East, today,
Obama has not explicitly announced his new position and he and his cabinet secretaries still make speeches saying they will try to prevent
It has global security consequences in other ways, as well. It profoundly undermines American strategic credibility, which is the bedrock of whatever global order this troubled planet enjoys.
The troubling realisation that the Americans have given up, or are in the process of giving up, the fight to prevent Iran going nuclear is backed by the best informed security sources in Washington, London, Jerusalem and Canberra.
The bust-up between
It is inconceivable that Obama would have treated any Arab or Muslim leader with the same considered contempt that he showed to Netanyahu. I speculated last week that Obama engaged in his furious over-reaction in order to pursue personal popularity in the Muslim world, and perhaps to force
I still think these were important considerations but there was a much bigger strategic purpose, as well. In 2008,
In those days, senior Americans from then-president George W. Bush down, often said that "all options are on the table" in their determination to stop
He won a tumultuous standing ovation by using a repetition of a key word to emphasise his determination. He said: "I will do everything in my power to prevent
Obama doesn't talk anything like that any more. In his message to
But the bulk of her speech was all about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Presidential and Secretary of State speeches on subjects like this are given a level of attention that wouldn't be out of place in the preparation of a papal encyclical. The sub-text of Obama and Clinton's recent speeches can only be that they have decided that the battle against a nuclear-armed
One thing they are determined to do is to stop
It is impossible to know with absolute certainty what
This is where the Obama-Israel dust-up comes in. By so isolating
Is it fair to conclude definitively that Obama has decided to give up, except for symbolic and meaningless actions, the fight against a nuclear-armed
Obama might still change his mind - he is nothing, after all, if not flexible - but that is the inescapable conclusion of his actions so far.
He has set so many deadlines for
Remember, initially, that the Obama administration wanted to wait for the Iranian election in the middle of last year before it exhausted dialogue or went down the sanctions road? Remember then the deadline was September? Remember the proposal for
And where are we today? Now it is April and Obama is still talking in his feckless way about possible UN sanctions. Anything that is passed by
The only explanation that fits with all the facts is that the
Here's something else you should know about
There is no chance Obama will produce a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in his first term in office, which is how he would like to be remembered by history. There is every chance history will remember him for something altogether different, as the American president on whose watch
Greg Sheridan is Foreign Editor or The Australian, where this article appeared April 3, 2010.
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