As the dynamic duo of Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote recently…

The Use of Force, the Reflexive Resort to Economic Sanctions, and the Trials of America’s Hegemonic Mindset

As negotiations toward a “final” nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran continue, it is important to consider to what extent the world might be witnessing a fundamental change in American foreign policy. We are inclined to think that the Obama administration would not have gone as far down the diplomatic road with Iran as it has in the absence of President Obama’s self-inflicted debacle over his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August 2013. This episode drove home—to the Obama administration as well as to most of the rest of the world—that the United States can no longer credibly threaten to use military force in the Middle East for hegemonic purposes.

After the American public so resoundingly rebuffed Obama’s call for U.S. military action, his administration was compelled to conclude that starting down the diplomatic road with Iran was politically less costly than pushing for more sanctions and continuing to insist that the “military option” was still “on the table.” But can the Obama administration really go all the way to a comprehensive realignment of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran—and, in the process, show that the United States can shift proactively from a counterproductive drive to dominate the Middle East to serious engagement with all important regional powers, and not just slink out of region in defeat?

Making such a shift will require Washington to relinquish the self-damaging delusion that the United States can actually maintain hegemony in the Middle East on an open-ended basis. America’s reaction to the ongoing Ukraine crisis suggests that American elites are having a very difficult time giving up this delusion.

Interestingly…

Sanctions on Russia over Ukraine not expected to damage delicate diplomacy on Syria, Iran

…The U.S. focus on chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict fulfills Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power, and Russian influence in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program has diminished, according to analysts who specialize in U.S.-Russian relations.Those conclusions suggest that the State Department’s compartmentalization policy will succeed, avoiding a severing of U.S.-Russian ties but still light years away from what the Obama administration once had envisioned as a “reset” with Moscow…

Moving along…

Israelis suspected of trying to buy Libyan oil from seized tanker

Two Israelis and a Senegalese national were questioned in Cyprus in connection with an oil tanker loaded from a rebel-held port in Libya, the island’s CNA news agency reported Monday.

It said police in the coastal city of Larnaca questioned the three on Saturday on suspicion of negotiating to buy crude from the tanker, Morning Glory.

A Larnaca court declined to issue arrest warrants as authorities in Cyprus had no evidence that the alleged offence was committed within its territorial waters.

Local media said the three flew in to Larnaca on a private jet late Friday, hired a boat from the marina and went out to the tanker to negotiate with the crew.

Police monitored their movements and the boat was intercepted once they were back in Cyprus waters. The trio flew out to Tel Aviv on Sunday night.

In Washington, the Pentagon said US Navy Seals early Monday boarded and took control of the Morning Glory in international waters southeast of Cyprus.

It was to be taken back to Libya.

Meanwhile, in Israel…

Explosion near Syria border wounds four Israeli soldiers

IDF responds to bombing with artillery fire; three soldiers, who sustained light and moderate wounds, evacuated to Haifa hospital.

…Three Israeli soldiers were wounded by a bomb that hit their jeep in the Golan Heights near the Syrian border on Monday….On Friday evening, an explosive charge detonated near Har Dov in the vicinity of the Israel-Lebanon border……About ten days earlier, a similar incident occurred in the northern Golan Heights, when an Israel army force spotted several persons suspected of attempting to plant a charge near the border fence with Syria….Tensions have risen in the north since an airstrike, attributed by foreign reports to the Israeli Air Force, targeted a Hezbollah weapons convoy in Lebanon.

And, to add insult to injury, to the persecuted Palestinians…

Palestinians ordered to pay Israel to demolish their own homes

An Israeli court has not only ruled that a number of Palestinian homes in Haifa have to be demolished but also that the home owners must pay 20,000 shekels (just under $6,000) to the authorities to cover the costs. The buildings belong to Palestinian citizens of Israel who refused to be ethnically cleansed from their land when the state was created in 1948.

In the West Bank…

So naturally…

Congressional Hawks: Obama Needs to Get Tough With Abbas

Abbas: Israel Recognition Settled Long Ago

With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visiting the White House today, Congressional hawks were quick to condemn Obama for not being much more hostile toward him, and for not issuing myriad demands upon his arrival.

The big issue, for the Congressmen, was Abbas not recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state,” with Rep. Doug Collins (R – GA) saying that anyone who sets foot in the White House should be expected to make such a declaration of recognition.

Several went on to suggest that Israel’s willingness to give lip-service to Palestinian autonomy of some form while the Palestinians weren’t willing to immediately give in to all Palestinian demands proved a “double standard” in the negotiations.

Abbas addressed the issue again with the press today, saying he and predecessors had repeatedly recognized Israel in general for decades. His government is reluctant to give in on the “Jewish state” issue, however, because of the implication to Israel’s Arab minority.

In wrapping up, talk about your Paranoia…