It happened today - December 29, 2015

Well whoop-de-doo. On this date in history, the United States was revealed to be planning a major policy statement on the Middle East. Go ahead. I dare you. Guess the year.

For that matter, guess the decade. President after president, possibly made giddy by the adulation of partisan supporters and seduced by the flattery of aides, decides they’re just the wonderful human being to straighten out that troubled region and, who knows, bag a Nobel prize.

In this case the culprit was Dwight D. Eisenhower. He had to do something, I suppose, since the U.S. had just cut Britain, France and Israel off at the knees over their Suez intervention in the belief that abandoning their friends would impress their Middle Eastern enemies, which worked about as well as you’d expect.

His new plan, leaked by the New York Times on Dec. 29 1956 and formally announced in January 1957, had two essential components. One was that the United States would oppose Soviet military intervention in the Middle East, which I guess is nice but surely went without saying. The other was a major economic assistance plan for the Middle East to buy friends and economic development, which worked about as well as you’d expect.

Fast forward six decades. Barack Obama had a major policy statement on the Middle East when he first became president, that reset relations with the Muslim Arab world as he also did with Russia and China and… oh, never mind.

True, he did win his Nobel peace prize anyway, as a senior member of every Democratic administration has since Lyndon Johnson didn’t because of Vietnam. As for the Middle East, well, its troubles seem oddly impervious to presidential statements.

Stay tuned for more of them anyway.

It happened todayJohn Robson