What Obama Might Achieve

Judis calls Obama’s UN speech today “his most significant foreign policy statement since becoming president.” The reason why:

If Obama does achieve a rapprochement between the United States and Iran, it could have repercussions throughout the Middle East. It could make a political settlement in Syria possible. It could ease negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Israel’s hardliners would no longer have an excuse for ignoring the West Bank occupation, and Hamas would no longer have international support in refusing to back a two-state solution. And, finally, of course, a rapprochement could give the United States a strong ally in reducing the threat of terrorist movements in the Middle East and South Asia.

Max Fisher thought Obama’s UN speech was harder on Iran than his recent remarks:

That Obama would harden his stance toward Iran, at precisely the moment when Tehran seems most receptive to his entreaties, may seem surprising on the surface. But U.S.-Iran engagement is shifting from theoretical to actual this week. And that means the United States is a little less worried about enticing Tehran to the negotiating table, and a little more preoccupied with keeping their Iranian counterparts honest.

But the toughening stance on Iran, like the decision to privilege the nuclear issue far above detente, seemed to nod to growing concerns from Israel. … Israel does not have veto power over U.S.-Iran engagement, exactly, but it does have significant influence – and sympathetic-minded legislators in Congress could have the power to block Obama from any deals with Tehran.