President Barack Obama left last night for Israel in an attempt to "reset" the Israeli-US relationship.
There are those who will say that if either side has to reset the relationship, it is the Israelis. I understand that; I don't agree with it, but I understand it.
A couple of weeks ago shiny new Secretary of State John Kerry effectively presented a check to the Egyptian government - which is now in the throes of an electoral breakdown - for $250 million.
I wondered, at the time why, when the courts had cancelled the scheduled elections for Parliament, we rewarded the government with a quarter of a billion USDs.
This is why I'm not the Secretary of State.
Turns out that Kerry was paying forward a bribe to keep the Egyptians in line because it had already been decided that President Obama would be visiting Israel.
In the run up to the visit by President Obama, the Israelis made it clear they were not going to roll over to have their collective bellies rubbed. According to Reuters:
Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a Jewish settler and member of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, said in a television interview that in occupied territory "building will continue in accordance with what the government's policy has been thus far."
Remember how cranky the Administration got when the Israelis announced new settlements while Vice President Joe Biden was actually in Israel? The Israelis got the joke and announced these new settlements this past Sunday, before Obama got on the plane.
While all that was going on, it was reported that both sides in the Syrian civil war were accusing each other of using poison gas. The Assad government has said it did not have chemical weapons and, even if it did, it would never use them against other Syrians - only foreign invaders.
While you consider the implications of that, consider also this.
On the 10th anniversary of the launch of the invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush, there were a series of bombings that resulted in scores of deaths and hundreds of wounded. The NY Times:
By midafternoon, the numbers had stacked up: 57 dead and nearly 190 wounded in separate attacks that included 17 car bombs, 2 adhesive bombs stuck to cars, and a killing with a silenced gun.
This is all coming to the fore because President Obama is going overseas to visit. If he were in the White House wringing his hands over the unwillingness, or inability, of the House and Senate to do his bidding, these foreign issues would barely make it to the front page of News.Google.com.
Obama is getting a great deal of heat from the Left over his continued use of drone attacks on people who might present an imminent threat of engaging in terrorist activities against the U.S.
I am not unalterably opposed to dropping Hellfire missiles on the heads of bad guys, but in 2009 Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his:
"Promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a "new climate" in international relations fostered by Obama, especially in reaching out to the Muslim world."
Former chief of staff to President Clinton, John Podesta, raised eyebrows in Our Nation's Capital last week when he published an essay in the Washington Post wagging his finger in Obama's nose:
"In refusing to release to Congress the rules and justifications governing a program that has conducted nearly 400 unmanned drone strikes and killed at least three Americans in the past four years, President Obama is ignoring the system of checks and balances that has governed our country from its earliest days."
It will be difficult for the President to assume any moral high ground with the Israelis or the Palestinians when they can wave that op-ed by the man who was co-chair of Obama's first transition team in his face.
I raise all these issues because these are the kinds of things that bedevil second-term Presidents who, while they are closely focused on their legacy, have to deal with issues and people are just as closely focused on their own issues.
Maybe the President will be able to pull off some diplomatic coup while he is there. I hope so, but the odds are against him being able to reset Middle East policy.