Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Annapolis Shuffle

Why exactly, Mr. President, is "the time right" now for a Middle East peace breakthrough? Other than in terms of your time in office?

"First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace." But Abbas has been there for years. And Olmert is far weaker at home than he was at the beginning of his tenure, and probably less capable now of accomplishing dramatic moves.

"Second, the time is right because the battle is under way for the future of the Middle East, and we must not cede victory to the extremists." And exactly how is this different than 2005, or 2003, or -- Sept. 12, 2001?

"Third, the time is right because the world understands the urgency of supporting these negotiations. We appreciate that representatives from so many governments and international institutions have come to join us here in Annapolis, especially the Arab world."

Turn around. You can see the looks on their faces. Like too-cool 8th graders on an educational field trip. What sort of trade-offs did you give them in terms of turning a blind eye to repressions at home to get them all into the room for that photo op?

What single shred of evidence do you offer that these men want to now give up the one thing that most powerfully props up their rotten regimes: However furious their subjects may be at them, they always can be made more furious at Israel?