There is very little left to say in contemplation of the Annapolis Peace meeting starting tomorrow that has not already been said, but a few comments are in order. Most observers, and many of the participants, are minimizing expectations in preparation for a series of speeches in which Israel will be roundly lambasted for its "oppressive occupation", the Palestinians will eschew any responsibility for their parlous conditions, and many of the most important issues will be completely ignored. All that is left is to wonder what could possibly drive Condaleeza Rice and George Bush to press for the meeting and what can possibly emerge from the voluminous words that will flow around and past the protagonists?
The first question begs for a Psychoanalytic response. After all, George Bush based his entire approach to Islamic terrorism on the premise that the civilized world was, and is, under assault by Nihilists and Islamofascists. Countries were either with us or against us. His moral clarity was remarkable, even despite the obvious lacunae in his conception (ie, Saudi Arabia, most explicitly.) To convene a meeting today, in the complete absence of any improvements on the ground, with an ongoing, though barely reported, low level war against Israel from Hamastan and West Bank Fatahstan, and with the Israeli public thoroughly disgusted with their insipid leadership, defies comprehension.
The New York Times Elisabeth Bumiller attempts to explain Rice’s Turnabout on Mideast Talks in a long article today, but comes up empty, and perhaps is inadvertently most revealing of Rice's utter cluelessness:
Ms. Rice spent much of 2005 working on the Gaza withdrawal that she thought would contribute to stability. Instead, it was seen as so emboldening the radicals that in early 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections over Mr. Abbas and his governing party, Fatah.
Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”
“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.
“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’”
The current conference appears to be nothing else than the personification of an old joke of the man searching for his glasses under a street light at night although he had lost his glasses in the shadows. Although his glasses are not under the light, at least he can see there. Condoleeza Rice and George Bush apparently believe they have no ability to influence the behavior of the Arab world and have decided that they must, therefore, pressure Israel for the usual "painful concessions." That the Israeli leadership appears so eager to facilitate their own fiasco is a decent expression of what Thomas Sowell has described as White Guilt in the international arena. I might add that guilt is often closely tied to masochism and the Israeli government seems to be nothing if not masochistic. What other government would tolerate daily rocket attacks, kidnappings, and murder from just across the border, and do less than nothing beyond tolerate the evacuation of cities near the border?
As to the second question, of what can come from these meetings, meetings which most famously will not include a Saudi-Israeli handshake (and can anyone explain how this is anything more than a kindergarten level stunt by the infantile and insecure, though extremely wealthy Saudis?) a few guesses are in order.
The most likely outcome is a decision to continue the process, whatever that actually means. In fact, until both sides decide they are willing to negotiate for peace, there will be no peace. When the Arab world refuses to accept the Jewish nature of the state of Israel all the while insisting on the Muslim nature of 50 states around the world, and the Palestinians by large margins refuse to concede their minimal demands of a right of return (never mind the 800,000 Jews who were dispossessed from communities that had lasted thousands of years throughout the Middle East, most of which is now Judenrein) no peace is possible.
The Jewish state is likely to agree to a masochistic and slowly suicidal outcome in an effort to be accepted and liked by their neighbors and their former neighbors in Europe (you know, the ones who dispossessed and murdered them in large numbers 60 years ago.) However, just as with the scorpion and the frog, I have confidence in the Arab world, and especially the Palestinians. At some point a murderous terrorist attack on Israel will succeed and will be large enough to get even Tzipi Livni's and Ehud Olmert's attention, at which point the charade will end and for a time, people will once again recognize that until both parties to a dispute are ready for peace, peace cannot come.
Peace will come to the Middle East when Israeli is destroyed or the Palestinians and their Arab brethren decide they will no longer tolerate the pain of their own depravity.