President Obama's apparent focus on returning the Muslim Brotherhood to political participation in Egypt and keeping the Syrian conflict from metastasizing is deceptive.
The administration's real effort is being put into making peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. This is in keeping with Obama's commitment to "righteous causes" all the world can agree on, especially when they cost the U.S. nothing and result in no real change.
All the while, there's no doubt that the geopolitical shape of the Middle East is changing. However, that change may take a while to occur. There is speculation lately that the chaos in Egypt will, at least until a stable new regime emerges, benefit Israel and the U.S.
While it's consolidating power, the Egyptian military hardly needs the kind of trouble that is brewing in the Sinai, with the Muslim Brotherhood's encouragement of Hamas's penetration and the gathering of jihadis there, and this may necessitate Israeli-Egyptian security cooperation.
On the Syria front, the Kurds there and Iraq should receive U.S. help in resisting Assad, the Iranians, and the Turks. Also, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, which share Israel's interests in containing Egyptian violence, may quietly line up with Israel and the United States (if it stops supporting the Muslim Brotherhood) and decide to help the Kurds into the bargain.
Change, however, may well be speeded up by untoward events in a number of countries. For example, if Egypt disintegrates into all-out civil war, a whole new game will be on. If the Sinai becomes the battleground it's been heading toward over the past few years, Iran's involvement in the region will accelerate and put Israel and the Gulf in greater danger.
Similarly, if Syria disintegrates, Tehran will likely to step up its effort to turn Syria-Lebanon into an Iranian satrap. Sunni Islamists have already threatened to take jihad to their Shia opponents, even going so far as to advocate taking the struggle into Iran.
Such a struggle could well involve the Kurds and the Saudis and make for an even messier fight.
It is also a mistake to think that the Muslim Brotherhood, which over the decades has increased its influence throughout North Africa, Gaza, and Turkey, will necessarily recede because of its troubles in Egypt.
The Brothers have given themselves numerous options for stirring the pot, and not just in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. And nothing will stop the Brothers from increasing incitement to jihad in the U.S. and Europe.
In geopolitical terms, this is what Obama faces. Yet, despite increased Palestinian virulent hate propaganda against Israel and "the Jews," the administration demands Israeli concessions to "prove" their willingness to live peacefully with their belligerent neighbor.
Someone should call Secretary of State John Kerry's attention to Palestinian president Abbas's continuing calls to eliminate Jewish presence from the region, much like Morsi and his Brothers. Clearly, Abbas's agenda is war, not peace.
The administration's willful blindness and deafness regarding the Middle East has done enough to the destabilize the region. But Obama, the stillborn Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, apparently needs a "peace process" he can claim as his own.
However, advancing the cause of Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinians, would further sink the Middle East into chaos that would further damage American interests abroad and also likely to end up stinging us at home.
The dangers ahead remind us of the tale (with a twist) of the scorpion who said to the frog, which he stung as he was being carried across the Suez Canal, "This is the Middle East. Alas, Obama doesn't seem to allow Middle-East realities to get in the way of advancing his "righteous causes."
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is director of the New York-based Center for American Democracy.