The American Interest

Obama, Relationship Therapist

The House of Peers, throughout the war,
Did nothing in particular,

and did it very well.

W.S. Gilbert’s lines from Iolanthe seem applicable to President Barack Oba­ma’s four-day Middle East trip, which ended on March 23.  The tour was a “diplomatic triumph,” according to Reu­ters.  “Obama returns . . . with diplomatic victory,” declared CNN.  “All in all it was a success,” said the Huffington Post.

Since there is no new initiative to help resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute and no new strategy to deal with various other problems of the region, one may wonder what the fuss was all about.  It appears that the hallmark of Obama’s success was his ability to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a phone call and apologize to Prime Minister Recep Tay­yip Erdogan of Turkey for the Gaza flotilla raid by Israeli special forces in May 2010, which left nine Turkish citizens dead.

Far from healing a rift between two U.S. allies, the gesture likely left Netanyahu quietly resentful and Erdogan unlikely to alter his stated views on Zionism as a “crime against humanity.”  Obama said that it was time to restore “normal relations...

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