[Note for Tomdispatch readers: I’m in transit for the next couple of days, but I leave you in good hands. Today’s writer, Tony Karon, senior editor at Time.com, also produces the ever-thoughtful (as well as provocative) blog Rootless Cosmopolitan. To recommend just a couple of sites — other than the Israeli newspaper Haaretz — that I find of particular interest on the Middle East, and especially Palestinian/Israeli matters, I suggest you check out the War in Context website, whose editor, Paul Woodward, has an eye for the important article in — and out of — the mainstream. (He sometimes adds his own koan-like comments as well). In addition, the Conflicts Forum website, which advertises itself as “connecting the West and the Muslim world” — in the following piece Karon quotes both of its directors, Mark Perry and Alastair Crooke — is definitely worth a stopover. Tomdispath may have its usual Sunday night/Monday post, or the next post might not be until Tuesday. In any case, next week look for a Chalmers Johnson must-read piece on the CIA. Tom]
Yes, Bush Is Naked, What of It?
On the Middle East Catwalk with the Bush Administration
By Tony Karon
President Bush’s announcement of a new Middle East summit is being dutifully reported as a move to “revive” the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, designed to culminate in a two-state solution. But the meeting, if it ever comes about, will be nothing of the sort. U.S. officials have already made clear that the gathering’s purpose will be “to review progress toward building Palestinian institutions, look for ways to support further reforms and support the effort going on right now between the parties together.”
Mushy? Of course it’s mushy. The Bush speech simply restated the key term of the administration’s long dead “roadmap” — before there can be peace talks, the Palestinians will be required to destroy Hamas. In other words, there will be no peace talks, just a lot of wishful thinking. As White House Press Secretary Tony Snow put it, “I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It’s not.”
The Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about the emperor’s new clothes might accurately describe current U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — except for one important detail. In the fairytale, the emperor’s courtiers are careful never to let on that they can see their monarch’s nakedness; in the case of U.S. Middle East policy, there is what playwright Bertolt Brecht might have called an epic gap between some of the actors and their lines. Plainly, very few of them believe the things that the script requires them to say.
In this absurdist take on the old fairytale, whenever anyone points out that the emperor has no clothes, they are simply told “duh!” before the players get back acting as if it’s fashion week in the palace.
The parlor game in all of this might be deciding which of Bush’s courtiers is the most craven and cynical. The competition is fierce, but here’s a handicapping of the race: