November 27, 2007


Bush and Blair unite in bid to create historic Middle East peace accord (DAVID GARDNER, 27th November 2007, Daily Mail)

Mr Bush was joined by more than 40 Arab leaders and international envoys, including Tony Blair, as he opened the conference at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

The former prime minister is there in his role as Middle East envoy for the quartet, which represents Europe, Russia, the U.S. and the UN.

Key role of America's Condoleezza Rice (Alex Spillius, 28/11/2007, Daily Telegraph)
If the Annapolis conference leads to Israel and the Palestinians signing a peace treaty by the end of next year, much of the credit will go to Condoleezza Rice.

The US Secretary of State has racked up 100,000 miles in eight trips to the Middle East over the past year with the sole aim of reviving a peace process ignored for six years by a Bush administration convinced peace was elusive after Bill Clinton's narrow failure to seal a deal in 2000.

Drilling a Hole in the Lifeboat (Barry Rubin, November 25, 2007, GLORIA)

What would you do if your foreign policy agenda had these priorities:

* Get Arab and European support for solving the Iraq crisis.
* Mobilize Arab and European forces against a threat led by Iran and its allies, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah.
* Get Iran to stop its campaign to get nuclear weapons.
* Reestablish American credibility toward friends and deterrence toward enemies.
* Reduce the level of Israel-Palestinian conflict.

That pretty much describes the U.S. framework for dealing with the Middle East nowadays. The Annapolis conference is not going to contribute to these goals. The most likely outcome is either failure or a non-event portrayed as a victory because it took place at all. No one is going to say: We are so grateful at the United States becoming more active on Arab-Israeli issues that we are going to back its policy on other issues.

What to do is rather easy and entirely consistent with Anglo-American history: create independent democratic states in Iraq, Kurdistan, Palestine & South Lebanon. As in the Cold War, the rest of the world will love us for it after the fact despite bitching the whole time we effect it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 27, 2007 9:17 PM

The "conference" will be a success if (and probably only if) Syria is given an ultimatum. I hope that is why the administration went to such lengths for them to attend (a faint hope, I think).

Otherwise, it is almost certainly going to be just a wee bit of theater. What will Condi do when Abbas misses a bi-weekly meeting, or Olmert is deposed, or a Hamas rocket launch kills some children? Start over? Pretend nothing is different? Set an empty chair at the table? Change the lunch menu?

The fascination with engaging Syria in diplomacy is disgusting. Engage them in battle first, and then the diplomacy will work beyond Warren Christopher's wildest dreams.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 28, 2007 1:27 AM

Would Hamas be bound by Abbas's agreement?

Posted by: ic at November 28, 2007 2:59 AM

Well, yes, disgust is about right, though I seem to find the continued efforts to pull Syria into an American orbit as rather humorous in a pathetic kind of way.... Syria is about to turn Westward. Syria is on the verge of turning Westward. Syria really wants to turn West, if only we give Syria what she wants.... We have to understand Syria's positions, her legitimate interests, her point view, etc., etc., ad nauseum.... (Kind of like, "He'll leave her and run off with me. I know he loves me. I know he doesn't love her. It's going to happen. It's fated. I can understand why he's been hesitating so far---it's not an easy choice---but I am his true love and true love always triumphs, etc., etc.")

One is forced to admire(!) Syria, which is playing these diplomatic "experts" and tough investigative journalists for the fools that they don't quite realize they are. (I suppose they keep telling themselves: "But, but what are the alternatives?" American pragmatism can sure take some strange forms....) In addition, I believe that such delusions are fueled by distaste (let us call it) for the State of Israel, which distaste can tend to cloud one's judgment. And now that Walt & Mearsheimer have worked so hard and meticulously to justify such "distaste" (having promoted it to the major leagues, so to speak), one can expect cloudy judgment to be the passion of the day (not that it was all that clear to begin with....)

All quite humorous. And pathetic. (And potentially catastrophic...but for whom?)

As for Annapolis and the aftermath, it might lead to betrayal and catastrophe---one can understand the anxiety--- but probably, it won't change very much. Those who understand, understand. Those who don't, don't. Those who deny will likely continue to deny. And, perhaps, for those who aren't quite sure what the score is, Annapolis will offer some clarifications.

My feeling is that not too much will change. The Palestinians will continue to reject Israel, while continually claiming victimization and oppression, poverty and starvation---and they will continue to get funding. Israel will continue to get rocketed and attacked and will continue its reprisals, while trying to feebly protest that its security is at stake, while at the same time, protesting it wants to find a solution and freeing Palestinian prisoners on occasion along with other symbols of good will, all of which will be ignored, even when they lead to further attacks.

As for the Bush administration, and Rice in particular, the whole exercise might be a kind of insurance policy: "You see, we tried. We tried our darnedest, but these things aren't easy and they take time(!)"....the message being to Europe, the Democrats and the MSM, "Get off our backs about us not engaging the peace process, since you can all see what the result are." (As if that will help get them off their backs....)

All this preparing the ground for the next big thing in the Persian---Arabian, that is (did I say "Persian"---Gulf.

Of course, we just don't know. (Or maybe we do?)

Nevertheless, it's safe to assume that Israel will continue to be pummeled diplomatically and pricked militarily, and that this continued deligitimization and weakening is merely more of the same old plan, which will ultimately lead to her erasure.

As they say, it's good to have goals....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 28, 2007 3:17 AM

It doesn't matter if they accept Israel. They need to be forced to accept Palestine. The rest follows.

Posted by: oj at November 28, 2007 7:13 AM

Hamas wants to be bound by it, just not be responsible for it.

Posted by: oj at November 28, 2007 7:14 AM

Israel won't issue any ultimatums to Syria--they want Assad in power.

Posted by: oj at November 28, 2007 7:19 AM