The assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan by forces unknown serves as a message that the Obama administration will find it difficult to reinvent itself as the savior of Asian peace and prosperity; instead, the United States will find itself reprising its dreary and detested role in the Middle East soap opera as defender of the pro-Israel/anti-Iranian status quo.
The murder of Ahmadi Roshan came on the one-year anniversary of the murder of two other Iranian nuclear scientists by similar methods (motorcyclist + bomb + car). It also came at a time of heightened tensions (anyway, tensions higher than the usual heightened tensions), inviting the inference that somebody, probably somebody in the region, wants to goad the Iranian government into a response that could start the military action ball rolling.
It is a safe bet that Obama, disengaging from two futile, polarizing, and massively expensive land wars, does not want war with Iran. It is also plausible that Saudi Arabia does not relish the opportunity to prove that it really does have the excess capacity to replace Iranian energy shipments to China, Japan, and South Korea.
And it is certain that Obama does not want the corpse of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan to serve as the poster child for US foreign policy, or that he wishes to ingratiate himself to America's East Asian friends and allies by bearing the gift of $200/barrel oil (while Beijing exploits its relationship with Iran to buy energy at a discount).
But Iran won't go away: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and their US supporters in both parties won't let it.
Because these powerful stakeholders want to make sure that plans to widen the US diplomatic and military footprint in East Asia don't come at the expense of their perceived existential interests in the Middle East.
So Obama has to drag his Middle Eastern baggage to Asia and make the case that Asia-Pacific should help America work through its Iran obsession.
Instead of exporting American solutions to Asia, the US seems to be exporting American problems.
It does not appear that the Obama administration has figured out how to make lemonade from this sackful of citrus.
One can imagine that the Obama message to Asia is "Believe the policy, not the politics", ie, the United States knows where its interests and future lie, and is not going to drive the world off a cliff because election year politics demand appeasement of the anti-Iran cranks.
However, Asia has zero votes in US politics. On the other hand, the people who are caught up in the rhetoric of war with Iran do have the votes, interest, and money to make their influence felt…