2. Keep Obama from damaging Israel’s situation in regard to the Palestinians

Obama will have to decide whether to put an emphasis on the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” meaning pressure on Israel to make concessions while the Palestinian Authority (PA) doesn’t keep its commitments and makes no compromises. He might decide to do so based on his ideological predispositions.

Yet there is some evidence that Obama won’t behave this way. His failure on peacemaking is the only such defeat he has ever acknowledged. He knows it is hard and the administration almost certainly knows — though it will never admit it publicly — that what Mitt Romney said was right. The PA doesn’t want to make a peace deal with Israel.

Moreover, there have been interesting developments regarding the main strategic motive for the idea that a peace deal is necessary as soon as possible and requires pressure on Israel. This factor is called “linkage” — the concept that bashing Israel and getting the Palestinians a state as soon as possible will solve all of America’s other problems in the Middle East. Once this is accomplished, Muslims and Arabs will love the United States and — more importantly in one man’s mind — Obama.

What’s important here is not just that linkage doesn’t work, but that this reality has never before been so obvious. With anti-Americanism and crisis coming from all directions — Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and so on — will Obama see bashing Israel as a panacea?