Thursday, July 06, 2006

Whither diplomacy?

This op-ed in Haaretz notes the deafening silence from Washington in its non-response to Israel's most recent unpleasantness.

...there have been telephone conversations with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. ambassador in Israel receives updates, and the U.S. ambassador at the United Nations objects to resolutions calling on Israel to end its military operation in the Gaza Strip. But in terms of direct influence on the ground, there has been absolute American silence.

Gone are the days when someone from the State Department would pour oil on the water in times of tension betweeen Israel and its neighbors. (Hmm. maybe the oil image is not appopriate, but oil seems to figure in the picture one way or another.) Shuttle diplomacy seems to be a thing of the past.

...It was President Hosni Mubarak that went into the heart of the matter and dispatched his intelligence chief, who demanded that a doctor be allowed to see Gilad Shalit, and is now busy trying to mediate between the factions.

The United States was not even mentioned as an option. The White House spokesman on duty did take the time to inform the world that it was Israel's right to defend itself, but said it should do so carefully. Thanks a lot. Really. A different administration, in a different situation, would have sent a special envoy to the region who would shuttle between Syria, Gaza and Jerusalem, trying to calm things down, threatening, promising, fuming - all in order to end the crisis.

Dr. Leon Hadar takes it from here.

...What has been happening since the Iraq War is that U.S. policies have made things even worse through its policies in the Middle East that have ingnited even more anti-Americanism (and hence make it less likely that it could play a role of a "honest broker") while advancing its nutty democratic crusade (that help bring Hamas to power). The result is that at the height of its Imperial Moment in the Middle East, Washington seems to have almost no power to bring pressure on its client, Israel, and on what remains of the Palestinian entity to try to reach even an interim agreement. Which is exactly where the British Empire found itself in 1947 when it decided to withdraw from Palestine and leave others to deal with the mess it left there.

Ouch! Not a very good report card. I wish it were not so, but can't think of much to refute what he says. Two dog lines come to mind... "the dog that didn't bark" and sadly, "That dog won't hunt." He continues...

My guess is that sooner or later we're going to have to deal with the Big One in the Holy Land (which could result from a Palestinian mega-terrorist attack in Tel-Aviv or a Jewish terrorist attack on the Moslem religious sites in Jerusalem; well, something along these lines that could ignite global Moslem violence, oil sanctions, etc). At that point, there would not be much that Washington would be able to do and much of the diplomatic and military burden in dealing with the mess will probably fall on the shoulders of the Europeans.

Let's hope he's wrong. Washington may know something the rest of the world doesn't know, but my guess is they don't. At some level policy makers are clever enough to know that any US meddling on behalf of Israel would create more problems than solutions.

US diplomatic credibility in the area is at an all-time low when Hosni Mubarak is the best they can find in the way of good offices.


M. Simon said...

Hamas can stop the pain by returning Shalit. How hard can it be?

In any case Hamas has two problems. The non-recognition of Israel and their goal of Israel's destruction. What should the Israelis negotiate? The time table?

Attacking Israel from defacto Palestinian soverign territory is an act of war. A stupid move. I think the USA position is correct. Stupidity should get the appropriate reward. Since Hamas wants a war they should get one. If they lose (again) they can sue for peace.

BTW glad you liked the bikini 4th.

M. Simon said...

BTW Bikini 4th caused a huge spike in my traffic. You were the only one with the nerve to comment.

Way to go.

Hoots said...

Reminds me of a line I heard last night watching the July 6 Amazon Fishbowl show (see sidebar). When asked what he thought of the new medium, i.e. internet teevee, one guest deadpanned "something to watch other than porn."