American public diplomacy has been virtually invisible on all this, at a time when it is more urgently needed than ever. I can understand this â€“ you have to have a policy if you want to try to explain or defend it, and right now the Bush administration doesnâ€™t seem to have any policy at all beyond supporting Israel and issuing calls for â€œrestraintâ€ which Israel promptly and publicly rejects. And what administration official wants to subject him or herself to tough Arab questioning on live TV right now? The idea that Palestinian-Israeli relations could be cordoned off from wider Middle East questions was always misguided. Itâ€™s now become actively destructive to all of our interests in the region.
The only reason Iâ€™m not calling more loudly for Bush to get involved and take a leadership role in the conflict is the expectation that he would probably do the wrong thing. But at this point, doing nothing is, in fact, doing something. The Bush administration right now looks weak, confused, and vaguely pathetic… which is better than batshit crazy (like the folks who are demanding that America either smile on or even join in a war with Damascus and/or Tehran), but not nearly as good as exercising actual grown-up leadership at a time when the world could really, really use some.
I watched some clips of Condoleezza Rice today and, even taking into account that her hands are tied by our recent history, our existing policies and that little quagmire that nobody is talking about much these days, she has never looked more out of her depth than she did today, and that is saying something. The 2006 edition Condi makes the one from a year or two ago look like Winston Wolfe in Pulp Fiction.
As for Israel, did they overreact to the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit? No more so than the US overreacted to 9/11 by invading Iraq, which is to say: yes. Some people are just spoiling for a fight and will take whatever little opening they can get to do what they really wanted to do all along.
give them thumbs they forge a blade
and where there’s one they’re bound to divide it, right in two.-Tool