At the center of the neocons' strategy at least since the mid-1990s has been the idea that "regime change" in Middle East governments hostile to Israel would eventually starve Israel's close-in enemies, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestine's Hamas, of support and free Israel's hand to do what it wanted with the Palestinians. [See Consortiumnews.com's "The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War."]
The Putin-Obama collaboration -- if allowed to mature -- could have derailed that core neocon strategy and denied Israel the unilateral power to decide the Palestinians' fate. But the Ukraine crisis -- and now the plan to pour a half-billion dollars into the Syrian rebels fighting Assad -- has put the neocon strategy back on track.
The next question is whether Obama and whatever "realists" remain in Official Washington have the will and the determination to reclaim control of the Middle East policy train and take it in a different direction.