Thank goodness President Barack Obama overcame his pivot penchant to Asia and has sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton back to the Middle East. Her arrival can come none too soon.
Given the high potential for the crisis to escalate and for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to launch a ground war into Gaza, the adverse fallout for U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East could be quite dramatic. As Palestinian civilian casualties mount, the anger that is already roiling the streets in Egypt and Jordan could grow into more shrill demands to abrogate the peace treaties with Israel, which are the foundation stones of U.S. strategy and influence in the region.
In the meantime, Hamas’ claim that violence is the only way to liberate Palestine, or at least put it back on the world’s agenda, gains credibility, casting a shadow over the forlorn efforts of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to negotiate peace with Israel. And under the cover of this distraction — which it helped create — Tehran is able to complete the deployment of 3,000 centrifuges in its underground Fordo enrichment facility without any international outcry.