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Monday, August 06, 2007

Lame duck diplomacy

Here's one from a writer with whom I rarely agree. The Washington Post's Jackson Diehl highlights the striking parallels between the mad rush to diplomacy being conducted by President Bush and Secretary of State Rice with those conducted by President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright eight years ago. The comparison is not very pretty.
The Rice offensive bears more than a passing resemblance to a record the Bush team once ridiculed -- the mad dash for Israeli-Palestinian peace and North Korean disarmament by the Clinton administration in its final months. In the summer of 2000 President Bill Clinton astonished many in and outside of the Middle East by abruptly convening a summit at Camp David in an attempt to leap to a two-state settlement. Not long afterward, his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, flew to Pyongyang for an unprecedented meeting with Kim -- drawn by the prospect that North Korea would give up its program of long-range missiles.

Then as now, there were warnings from regional experts that the Palestinians were nowhere near ready for a final settlement and that deteriorating conditions in the West Bank and Gaza made the attempt particularly risky. More than a few Republicans claimed that Albright was being taken in by Kim, who, they said, would pocket the propaganda value of her visit but never deliver his missiles.

The naysayers turned out to be right. Yasser Arafat wasn't ready to conclude a deal, even on the generous terms that Israel then offered (and Olmert now rejects). And Kim was fooling: His negotiators never offered the Clinton administration a serious proposal on missiles. When time ran out, the Bush administration inherited a war between Israelis and Palestinians and an impasse with North Korea.

Is an administration hungry for redemption once again chasing diplomatic mirages? Hill seems convinced that the North Koreans are serious this time, though he worries that Kim will demand more in exchange for his arsenal than the United States will be prepared to give. Abbas and his prime minister, unlike Arafat, have said publicly they are ready to make a two-state deal -- but they don't speak for Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has the ability to trigger another war there or in the West Bank.
The real question is why and how Israel keeps having delusional governments in place that keep playing along with this show. Then again, except for a couple of years when Netanyahu actually refused to move unless the 'Palestinians' lived up to their obligations (1996-98 - up to the Why Why Wye? accord), every Israeli government since 1992 has played along with the charade called the 'peace process.' The Olmert-Barak-Livni government certainly won't be the one to change that precedent.


At 5:46 PM, Blogger Nannette said...

There's no difference, both were trying to get their Nobel "piss" prizes... and waiting to see who can be the first to celebrate the destruction of our little state...


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