As Putin ups the ante in his Middle East challenge to America (and hegemony in Europe should Russia control the Mediterranean Sea) what will be the response of “the world’s only superpower”? The likely response will be the same as over the past 14 years: What was is and will be tomorrow. Let History speak.

Bush failure in Iraq demanded he enter into a (still) secret agreement with Iran, a quid pro quo limiting US losses at the hands of Shiite militias in exchange looking the other way regarding Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear program, and continuing involvement in Iraq. As reported in [the Guardian] on July 17, 2008,

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“The US plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by President George Bush… an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section - a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.”
 
Enter Obama and the public policy of appeasement towards the Islamic Republic: peace in our time by capitulation: Iran a publicly sanctioned nuclear threshold state with money to support its freedom of action against America’s past Arab allies and Israel.

For a decade of blogs and responses on the pages of JPost, Times of Israel and Haaretz I have described the obvious retreat behind America’s policy towards the ME (and the world, but that was and remains for me off topic). A power vacuum, such as America’s return to Isolationism characterized well by Obama’s preferred “lead from behind” approach to superpower crisis management holds no credibility for challengers since, as von Clausewitz described, “War is simply the continuation of political intercourse” or, put another way, “Diplomacy rests on the threat of War.” Policy minus threat equals vacuum open to exploitation by rivals. However the White House today describes its approach as based on “world peace” and “nuclear non-proliferation.” What, other than regional instability and the threat of nuclear arms race, has been the outcome? It is instructive to recall that Kenneth N. Waltz, described as America’s dean of foreign policy, appeared in Foreign Policy in 2012 advocating for a nuclear Iran. By his reasoning in, Why Iran Should Get the Bomb, Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability

“Israel's regional nuclear monopoly, which has proved remarkably durable for the past four decades, has long fueled instability in the Middle East. In no other region of the world does a lone, unchecked nuclear state exist. It is Israel's nuclear arsenal, not Iran's desire for one, that has contributed most to the current crisis. Power, after all, begs to be balanced. What is surprising about the Israeli case is that it has taken so long for a potential balancer to emerge.”
 
No academic adviser to the White House and with access only to the open media still is it obvious that, even assuming Israel has that which Waltz describes as a "nuclear arsenal" spanning forty years that, as even he describes, “it has taken so long for a potential balancer to emerge,” that the threat of a nuclear arms race only surfaced with the emergence of the Iranian threat! America’s endorsement of Iran as a nuclear threshold state is clearly in accord with Waltz' dubious reasoning.

For more than a decade I have described the return of Russia determined to replace the U.S. as Middle East regional hegemon. As for China, that country will likely eventually replace Russia some time in the not-to-distant future. Recent headlines describe China as joining Russia in “attacking ISIL targets.” While this is a clear statement of “no-confidence” in American leadership, particularly as its timing, immediately following Xi-Jinping's White House meetings with President Obama. But an alliance with Russia? Relations between the two "comradely" states have always been “testy,” even “adversarial.” And, as power continues to shift West to East relations between the two, as between America and Russia today, will become increasingly strained. For China, “joining” Russia in the Middle East is more akin to dipping its toe in the water before diving in to its future global superpower role. In the eyes of China, as most of the world, American temerity in the use of threat in support of diplomacy is a clear sign of weakness, has forfeit credibility in America's role as “superpower.”

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