In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, the house journal of America's foreign policy establishment, the eminent historian Howard Sachar urges the United States and its allies to impose an accord on Israel and the Palestinians, since, he says, they won't reach one by themselves.
The tranche of 1,600 leaked documents on the peace process would seem to support Sachar's point. Invariably, the two sides seem tantalisingly close, yet unable to deliver closure, leaving American diplomacy with a dilemma: whether to pressure the sides into an agreement, or step back and encourage small, incremental steps that are just enough to prevent a return to violence.
While there has been generous coverage of US-Israeli tensions under the Obama Administration, the papers reveal an even more fractious relationship with the Palestinian Authority. Even so , just as the Bush White House wanted to deal only with the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, so does Obama.
Both former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and her successor, Hillary Clinton, emerge as assertive figures, unafraid of radical suggestions like resettling some of those Palestinians registered as refugees in Latin American countries. (The furore generated by that idea did not, of course, question whether the current policy of maintaining Palestinians as refugees for political reasons is morally superior.)
America needs to get bolder now and rethink how talks are conducted.
The Obama Administration has wisely refrained from commenting on the papers, given their murky provenance. Still, the widespread interpretations of these documents being actively promoted by the Guardian and Al Jazeera, among them that Israel is intransigent, that the Palestinian Authority leadership has sold out, that the two-state solution is dead, cannot be ignored in Washington.
Much of the analysis of American policy has centred on the degree to which the US should be engaged. What's needed is something bolder: a forthright reappraisal of how the negotiations are conducted. Up to now, the problem has been that truths acknowledged in private - for example, that while settlements may be an issue, they are certainly not the issue, or that a mass "return" of Palestinian refugees into Israel will never occur - are scorned in public.
The US needs to inaugurate a process that does not live in fear of public anger, or the throaty rejectionism of Hamas and Hizbollah.
It's a tall order, but if the Palestine papers demonstrate anything, it's that while US leadership might not be a sufficient condition of success, it is a necessary one.
Sure, the US won't win any plaudits from the Guardian's editors, but a place in the history books is more enduring.