So says Paul Richter in the Los Angeles Times:

The increasingly bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip is threatening the Obama administration’s plans to reinvigorate its Middle East diplomacy, creating new obstacles across the region as the president prepares for his second term.

With negotiators struggling to craft a cease-fire agreement, diplomats and experts say the strife is hampering administration efforts to help resolve the civil war in Syria, improve relations with Egypt’s new government, support moderate Palestinian leaders and check Iran’s growing ambitions.

Talk about damning with faint praise.

This is nothing less than a laundry list of Obama’s first-term failures.  More than 30,000 are dead in Syria with nary a worldwide protest, nor peace on the horizon; Egypt’s “new generation” of tech-savvy democracy bloggers now crowd Tahrir Square on Fridays and join along with everyone else in chanting “Death to Jews”; the definition of a “moderate Palestinian leader” is one who wants to obliterate the Jewish state by overrunning it with six million so-called refugees rather than murder every Jew outright; and Iran’s nuclear weapons program is now this far  from success.

But by all accounts, the damage to U.S. influence in the region is likely to grow if Israel sends ground troops into Gaza to stop the Hamas militant group from firing rockets into Israel.

Hmm.  The U.S. can’t prevent Hamas from firing 1,432 (and counting) rockets on Israel this year alone.  But if Israel takes steps on its own to prevent the barrage, then America’s influence will be weakened.  Define influence.

“The bottom line is that this will poison everything the United States is trying to do in the region,” said Shadi Hamid, research director at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar.

That reminds me of a joke Woody Allen tells in Annie Hall about two Jewish ladies at a Catskills resort.  One says, “The food here’s terrible.”  “Yeah,” says the second, “and such small portions.”

On another note, did you know the Brookings Institution has a satellite in Qatar?  How utterly perfect.