Here are three paragraphs that have an Alice-in-Wonderland-like quality to them:
Deepening chaos in Syria, in particular, could dash any remaining hopes for a Middle East peace agreement, several analysts said. It could also alter the American rivalry with Iran for influence in the region and pose challenges to the United States’ greatest ally in the region, Israel.
In interviews, administration officials said the uprising appeared to be widespread, involving different religious groups in southern and coastal regions of Syria, including Sunni Muslims usually loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The new American ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, has been quietly reaching out to Mr. Assad to urge him to stop firing on his people.
As American officials confront the upheaval in Syria, a country with which the United States has icy relations, they say they are pulled between fears that its problems could destabilize neighbors like Lebanon and Israel, and the hope that it could weaken one of Iran’s key allies.
Revolution in Syria could undermine peace with Israel and destabilize Lebanon? Read the article. You have to assume that this is the position of the Team Obama sharpies who are also making such a bold display of competence in Libya.
The article only quotes two “analysts” by name, Andrew Tabler and Martin Indyk, neither of whom say anything remotely like indicated in these paragraphs and one of whom, Indyk, seems to be saying exactly the opposite. Every other quote and position comes from inside the Administration.
A reader has to conclude that the analysts who fear for the dictator are all among the unnamed Obama Administration officials. It is possible that Assad’s brutal and profoundly anti-American regime could be followed by an explicitly Islamist regime, but given Assad’s support for Hezbollah, it is very hard to imagine how the toppling of Assad could be a bad thing for peace, Israel or the United States.
And given the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it seems very late in the game for the Times to start reporting on threats to the peace with Israel.
Monday night’s speech is no doubt already in the rewrite shop. But if the president is silent on Syria or –hard to imagine– appeals for patience for Assad and his regime of assassins, American policy in the Middle East will have reached a level of incoherence never seen before.