Obama presented a strategic interim outline ranging from isolationism to over-involvement, from a global leadership of America to over-enthusiasm to operate in places where the American interest is not directly threatened. An "exceptional" America, the president said – but that does not justify military entanglements in every center of crisis in the world.
The main and key threat is terror. A typhoon in the Philippines, abductions in Nigeria or violence in Ukraine – and the world looks at the US and demands intervention. But the US of the 21st century should not always or cannot always get involved. Not even in Syria.
And he failed to mention "our" Middle East. Neither with affection and concern, nor with criticism and frustration. Neither as a foreign policy target, nor as an American interest. He didn't express a commitment to the ally Israel, or an aspiration to give the Palestinians a state of their own.
The "peace process" is another center of conflict in the world which the United States has tired of failed attempts to broker its solution and, more importantly, solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a vital American interest.
The administration's spokespersons will explain that the speech focused on security-related issues rather than on foreign policy – and that is why the Middle East was not mentioned. But that does not explain why on Wednesday morning, in a simultaneous appearance on three networks, Secretary of State John Kerry did not mention the Israeli-Palestinian issue at all.
The US president spoke about the American foreign policy for 45 minutes and failed to mention the "peace process" or Israel, except for the 29th minute in regards to the Iranian issue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should allegedly be satisfied. Netanyahu, rightfully, has always defined global terror and the Iranian nuclear program as the two most important issues stemming from the Middle East. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the center of the region's problems, he claimed.
In practice, the American disengagement from the Middle East means deep trouble for Israel. Leaving Israel and the Palestinians to care for themselves is a very bad scenario. It's a recipe for violence, for isolation and for the world's indifference.
"He should leave us alone," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said about Secretary of State Kerry. He did. Now let's see what you'll do.
Obama presented America's national security policy and elaborated on the objectives of the American foreign policy for the coming years: The war on terror, the need for a joint structural and intelligence effort in the war on the remains and concessionaires of the al-Qaeda organization, the challenge against Russia, Syria and the increase in China's power.
He justified his decision to ignore the Middle East without directly explaining it: The US seeks energetic independence, it is tired of wars in the region and dislikes long-term involvement where there is no vital American interest.
Those in Israel who are satisfied with the speech do not completely understand its destructive ramifications.
Alon Pinkas served as Israel's consul-general in New York.