Bush Middle East Policy--"Absent across the Board"
U.S. on the Outside in Peace Efforts
By Robin Wright Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, May 22, 2008; A20
Just days after President Bush returned from the Middle East, the Middle East is moving beyond the Bush administration.
Two major peace efforts -- a surprise announcement of indirect talks between Israel and Syria brokered by Turkey and an eleventh-hour deal to prevent a new Lebanese war brokered by Qatar -- were launched without an American role, and both counter U.S. strategy in the region.
. . . The United States is not playing a role in other critical Middle East initiatives, Ottaway noted, including an Egyptian effort to reconcile the two major Palestinian parties, Fatah and Hamas, and negotiations between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council sheikdoms. The Bush administration is absent "across the board," she said. . . . That absence reflects Bush's lame-duck status, experts said. "The president spoke in Jerusalem a week ago about standing up to dictators and not appeasing those who used force. He isn't home a week, and the dictators and the forces of violence have triumphed," said Bruce Riedel, a former National Security Council staff member.
_______________________________________________________________ This hasn't a thing in the world to do with the lameness of ducks. It has to do with Middle Eastern political factions working out their own problems after three or four decades of failed American intervention. This was not a Bush failure in total, although he certainly contributed by seven years of failing to notice there was a Mddle East beyond Iraq and Afghanistan--then trying to muscle in for penalty-kicks after the game was over. Another part of the morning paper lauds the success with which Iraqi Army forces were received into Sadr City in Iraq because they were unaccompanied by U.S. troops. Progress is being made between Syria and Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah, perhaps ultimately between Israel and Palestine, but it's being made because Condi Rice has finally stopped flitting around the area like a scold. There is a Bush contribution, but an unintended one. His administration has so screwed up the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, has so inflamed the passions of militants in an area where they had successfully (if undemocratically) been held under the boot of various kings and dictators, that the powerful are noticing--and, in some cases doing something progressive about it. Not progressive in American terms, because America has finally been denied its impartiality by unrelenting Israeli intransigence. Israel is finally talking, all by itself and without U.S. negotiators at the table, because the events of the past seven years--an Israeli mauling in Lebanon combined with America's morass in Iraq--disproved the myth of both nations' military ability against insurgencies. For the first time in Israel's history, we are beginning to see cover-stories in such storied publications as The Atlantic, titled "Is Israel Finished?" Whether Israel is finished or not depends upon an unknowable set of future circumstances, but Israeli independence based upon its (and America's) sole threat of military strength is certainly finished. The experiment had fifty years to equitably provide for an independent Palestinian state and it failed. Blame is everywhere, but hubris, biblical interpretation and twisting the cloth of Holocaust-guilt are certainly among the top contenders for ignoring the needs of those whose lands were sacked in favor of Israel. Sacked (verb. Having been robbed and destroyed by force and violence). There is no other appropriate word for it. Europe, where unprecedented atrocities were committed against Jews, decided unilaterally to make up for the European crimes by taking Arab lands and giving them to Jews. What a neat piece of trickery against honor and justice--to buy out of a crime by committing another. And, as all crimes have a tendency to do, this one required the blood and treasure of criminal nations to uphold. Until it becomes un-upholdable. Which may or may not be now. The only thing that becomes more evident day by day is that the United States no longer holds the keys to a solution.