What’s the Deal in the Middle East?

As the UN General Assembly opened its 2013 session last week, Michael Doran spoke with Mosaic about the American flip-flop on Syria’s chemical weapons, what President Obama might be thinking about Iran, Vladimir Putin’s interest in Middle East turmoil—and what all of this means for Israel.

Read the full interview at, or read a brief excerpt below:

MOSAIC: Can you parse President Obama’s thinking?

MICHAEL DORAN: To me, what’s scariest about our policy is that it might not just be feckless and ad-hoc but that there might actually be a strategy behind it. Of course I don’t know this for a fact. You can make a case that our policy is based purely on what will play domestically. You can also make a case that it’s being put together on the fly and that nobody’s thinking more than five minutes ahead. But the evidence is also consistent with a strategy.

And one big point of the strategy, a very big play, is a deal with Iran. The one constant in the president’s policy from day one has been his complete unwillingness to get involved in Syria. It’s possible—and again I’m speculating—that the president wants to reassure Tehran that we’re not treating Syria as an element in a proxy regional war against them and their interests.