Post-American World Alert

Low-level discussions that could eventually lead to formal peace negotiations between Israel and Syria are being mediated by. . . Turkey. And a closed-door conference of Iraqi sectarian factions, mentored by advisors from Northern Ireland and South Africa, and designed to promote conflict resolution is being hosted by. . . Finland.

Seriously, I think America’s still got a solid run of relative dominance ahead. And the Oslo Accords are an obvious example of how tough negotiations sometimes benefit from being shielded from the glare of the American-sponsored spotlight. But whereas the Oslo talks took place while America was arguably at the peak of its global hegemony and during an administration solidly committed to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the current Israel-Syrian talks are being initiated at a time when America is floundering abroad and in direct defiance of a Bush administration determined to isolate Syria.