New US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent policy announcements to Congress confirm that Barack Obama’s administration will bring something different – though nothing radical – to American foreign affairs and those who expected an about-turn will probably be disappointed. The invitation to Clinton alone was a sign of the incoming president’s intentions. The bankrupt and obsessive policies of the Bush presidency, which have cost America so much, may be abandoned, but the basic direction that the «empire» has taken will not. Israel’s incursion into Gaza will provide the new president with an immediate test as soon as he takes office on January 20. Relations with Europe, Russia and China are of strategic importance to Washington, The hopes, however, that regular folk around the planet have invested in the new US president will be tried in the Middle East, because this situation will not be testing his diplomatic skills, but rather his political morals. There is great symbolism here, not just for Muslims around the world, but for global public opinion as well. More shocking than the atrocities being committed by the Israelis is the international community’s tolerance of them. No one harbored any illusions about where Bush stood on this issue but as far as Europe’s stance is concerned, it is depressing to see governments, organizations and media who are constantly speaking about human rights just sitting back and swallowing it all shamelessly when it comes to Gaza. It is also hardly surprising that among all the calls for a ceasefire, hardly anyone has actually come forward and accused Israel outright of war crimes. The difference in fire power between the Israelis and the Palestinians is so vast, that this conflict can be described more as a slaughter than a war. It is therefore profoundly wrong to view the responsibility borne by each side as equal.