For help understanding the foreign policy headlines of the past week, let's return, briefly, to the spring of 1983, when Barack Obama was a student at Columbia University. What were the burning international issues of that time?
Well, first was the "nuclear freeze" movement, which was prompting mass demonstrations around the world by people worried about the standoff between the Soviet Union and the United States. Obama published an article about it in a campus magazine in which he invoked the vision of "a nuclear free world."
The Middle East, meanwhile, was still reeling from the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon - which was the apotheosis of the Zionist right's dream of creating a "greater Israel" including all of the Palestinian West Bank.
Back to November 2010. The Obama administration is devoting a big share of its diplomatic time and capital to curbing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank - most recently, offering Israel's right-wing government $3 billion in warplanes in exchange for a 90-day moratorium. Meanwhile, it has committed much of its dwindling domestic political capital to pushing a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia through a reluctant Senate.
So has nothing changed in the past quarter-century? In fact, almost everything has - especially when it comes to nuclear arms control and Israel's national objectives. What hasn't changed, it seems, is Barack Obama - who has led his administration into a foreign policy time warp that is sapping its strength abroad and at home.