Israel-Palestine tension in contrast comprises one of the world's serious fault lines. Explosions there have dramatic echo effects that do matter globally. The US used to be able to absorb the consequences of failing to achieve peace among the parties -- but those failures are increasingly eroding America's strategic position in the world. The US can't afford for Israel and Palestine to continue to fail to act responsibly in their mutual long term interests.
The second wrong-headed comment that Obama makes that both former Presidential Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would say -- and which is totally wrong -- is that we can't want peace more than the Israelis and Palestinians, that peace can't be achieved without "the parties" sitting down and agreeing to negotiate.
This is ridiculous. Both Israel and Palestine cannot achieve peace on their own. Their internal domestic institutions and political order cannot take the domestic political stress of delivering on a deal. There have to be parties to blame, an institution or set of governments like the Quartet, or the US itself, that forced Israel and Palestine to do what they needed to do to achieve peace, securing their long term interests in a tough neighborhood, but which will be disruptive in the short term to an array of political interests.
The Saudis, Jordanians, Russians, French, Americans, even the Egyptians I think, the Brazilians, the Turks, the British and Germans want and need peace between Israel and Palestine more than many inside these societies want.
Inside the United States, however, a "Middle East peace business" of lobbyists and communications professionals and arms salesman and others want the business to go on and on -- not getting this package of problems resolved any time soon.
When the Japanese government was trying to figure out ways to liberalize its highly regulated economy in the 1980s but didn't want to take the political heat from outraged domestic constituents, it conspired with the United States to get the US to demand certain changes that Japan's bureaucrats were secretly calling for. This was called "Gaiatsu" or "foreign pressure." Gaiatsu was orchestrated by Japanese insiders to compel change inside Japan, but in a way that the governing LDP didn't make itself politically vulnerable.
Both Palestine and Israel need their own form of geopolitical gaiatsu from the US, from the Arab League, from the Quartet -- but this is not what Obama is giving them, and it is a mistake.
Barack Obama needs to get his groove back -- and needs to listen to the likes of Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Thomas Pickering, Chuck Hagel, Rita Hauser, Carla Hills, and many others who have been telling him to define in greater detail his expectations of the political endgame between Israel and Palestine.