However this round of violence ends — and it’s hard to see any scenario in which it produces remotely positive results for anyone involved — the outcome at the regional level will likely be to further exacerbate these conflicts and to undermine the chances for the incoming Obama administration to make early progress. While Arab regimes will almost certainly survive the latest round of popular outrage, the regional atmosphere may prove less resilient. Syria has reportedly broken off its indirect peace talks with Israel, for instance. A bloody Hamas retaliation against Israelis seems highly likely, and if Abbas is seen as supporting the Israeli offensive against his political rivals then Hamas may well emerge from this even stronger within Palestinian politics. The offensive is highly unlikely to get rid of Hamas, but it will likely leave an even more poisoned, polarized and toxic regional environment for a new President who had pledged to re-engage with the peace process. Obama has scrupuously (and wisely) adhered to the “one President at a time” formula in foreign policy up to this point… but you have to wonder how long he can sit by and watch the prospects for meaningful change in the region battered while the Bush administration sits by and cheers.