'Eh bien ...non!'
'With President Obama focused on discussions with Congressional leaders to address the fiscal cliff problem and preparing for a trip to Southeast Asia, the sudden flare up of hostilities in Gaza came as a most unwelcome surprise. Aside from the immediate dangers of new tensions in addition to those already present in Syria, US officials are deeply concerned about a potential permanent reversal of relations between Israel and Egypt. In calls to the leaders of Egypt, Israel, and Turkey, Obama is seeking to build a regional mediation effort to head off further escalation in the form of a ground invasion of Gaza. There is little confidence in Washington that these efforts will succeed. Publicly, the Administration continues to be supportive of Israel’s right to self-defense, particularly against reported acquisition by Hamas of more sophisticated ling-range rockets, but we understand that, behind the scenes, US officials have strongly urged their Israeli counterparts to think through the implications of their actions in the light of the radically changed political landscape in Egypt. They are also worried that the fighting may spill over to Jordan where the government already faces public protests. Meanwhile, with regard to Syria, initial optimism in Washington about the formation of a new, more representative opposition coalition is ebbing in the face of continuing intelligence that deep fissures remain. From conversations with our Administration contacts, it is clear that these developments come at a very awkward time in terms of personnel transitions at the State and Defense departments and when public attention is fixed on the economy. Washington will be looking at Cairo and Ankara to assume leadership roles in mediating the crisis. The events in the Middle East have obscured what may have more important longer-term implications for US foreign policy, namely the change of leadership in China....'