Obama has been doing his part to add to the vacuum by using complete sentences and closing Guantanamo (fortunately Judge Crawford halted the last trial at Gitmo, especially since evidence of torture seems to have been buried) Nevertheless, much remains to be undone; given the size of this task and America’s relative inaction regarding Gaza, many, including Noam Chomsky, have proclaimed that nothing has or will change regarding U.S. foreign policy. Although direct talks have not taken place with Hamas despite early indications (and similar intentions towards Iran look less likely), diplomacy may still have a chance. Of course, Israel/Palestine is a mess, over 1,300 casualties, widespread destruction, and the possible use of DIME, white phosphorous, and flechettes in Gaza, leaving little ground for trust; furthermore, what foothold the ceasefire could have provided has been eroded by recent rocket attacks and the bombing of tunnels and farmland.
Nevertheless, Mitchell remains the best man for the job. Since marvelling at his work in Northern Ireland (and his 2001 report on Israel/Palestine), I have wondered why he hasn’t played a bigger part in past negotiations, for the sake of humanity and across party lines. Much, however, will depend on the climate; indeed, amidst some of the blustering at Davos, it was interesting that Qaddafi (of all leaders) presented an insightful argument for the one-state solution, in The NY Times of all places.
Although Israel/Palestine will continue to be a blight for Obama, I hope he will be vindicated from accusations of not exacting the change he proffered or straying from the foreign policy set down by Bush Sr. I still maintain that he has had to cave-in in these areas to consolidate his position, but that he will move further as he becomes more sure of his position. Meanwhile his fame continues to grow: now the Irish have claimed him and look-a-likes have gained fame. We can only hope that his accomplishments will equal his fame or at least be buoyed by it.