US policies in the region are in the grip of a severe credibility crisis. I am not talking about the campaign to spread democracy, to which the Bush administration had hardly adhered before the Hamas victory in the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 and that it abandoned entirely afterwards. Rather, I am speaking of the conventional role that Washington has played since the end of World War II, which is to protect its allies -- Israel above all -- and to steer the collective security arrangements in the Gulf in order to safeguard the flow of oil. Many of America's allies have begun to question the efficacy of Washington's polices and, in some cases, now believe these policies cause more problems than they solve.What kind of role does he expect Washington to play? Is he really so delusional as to think that anything meaningful will come of Arab flirtations with other (rather mysterious) powers? The "allies" to whom he is referring may believe what they like. They have long been free to do so. The more important question is, what are they going to do about it?
Obama will pursue a different kind of foreign policy in the region than Bush. But he will certainly not stop protecting Washington's allies or the flow of oil.