John Kerry’s Middle East dream world

On Tuesday, Kerry offered the following explanation of why the Syrian peace conference he’s pushing will succeed: “The Assad regime knows full well that the purpose of” the conference is “the installation of a provisional government.” And “the Syrian government has accepted to come to Geneva.” It apparently follows that Assad will show up and placidly agree to hand over power. If not, Kerry ventured, “the Russians and the Iranians . . . will make certain that the Syrian regime will live up to its obligation.”…

To those outside the Kerry bubble, Egypt is ruled by a regime more repressive than any in decades, with a muzzled media and thousands of political prisoners. Syria is mired in an anarchic struggle whose most likely winners appear to be Assad and al-Qaeda , with neither inclined to negotiation. Israelis and Palestinians are further apart on the terms for a settlement than they were at the turn of the century. And the emerging conditions for a deal with Iran threaten to drive a wedge between the United States and some of its closest allies.

This raises the question: Does Kerry really believe his rhetoric? In fact, it appears he does, particularly on the Israeli-Palestinian account. Desperate for a legacy at the end of his long career, the former senator has convinced himself that a) the terms for a settlement are readily apparent and b) he has the political skills to convince Netanyahu and Abbas to accept them. Kerry, like President Obama, also is convinced that detente, if not a “grand bargain,” has all along been possible between the United States and Iran, if only the right people (like him) are at the table.