Sunday, October 28, 2007

As the Bush administration scrambles for a legacy...

One of their own says it isn't possible. But we'll get to that in a minute.

As the Bush administration ratchets up the rhetoric for a bombing assault on Iraq, madame Supertanker is casting about looking for advice from former Democratic presidents on how best to handle the approach to a US brokered mid-east peace deal.
Anxious not to repeat mistakes of past Middle East peace-making, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has turned to former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter for tips ahead of her own conference this year.
She's also been tapping other sources from both parties, but to have touched Carter is particularly telling. Carter despises the Bush administration and has made no secret of the fact.
A Soviet specialist, Rice also telephoned another former Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who tried, and ultimately failed, in his eight years in office to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together.

"She's trying to draw on the historical record and the experiences of others to see -- see what she can glean and how that may be applicable to the current day," [State Dept. spokesman Sean] McCormack said.

"She is a student of history and has a keen appreciation for how we can apply the lessons of history, what we can learn from those who have gone before us," he said.

I've said it here before: The so-called "Soviet specialist" was a miserable failure in that area. Her forecast of Soviet intentions toward the end of the Cold War era were dead wrong.

Aside from that, however, is this sudden interest in how others had approached the same problem. That's new.

Rice, along with all others in the Bush administration were all too willing to dismiss the past efforts of Carter and Clinton. In fact, Bush and Rice treated any effort along the lines of mid-east peace and reconciliation as wrong-headed. They had their way and that was it.

The neo-cons have never done anything like this before and they have no idea what to do now. This is far too complex for them and one wonders why their doing it?

The Bush legacy.

Sarah Baxter poses the question, "Will Bush really bomb Iran?"

A senior Pentagon source, who remembers the growing drumbeat of war before the invasion of Iraq, believes Bush is preparing for military action before he leaves office in January 2009. “This is for real now. I think he is signalling he is going to do it,” he said.

But nobody is sure whether the president really will add a risky third front to the Afghan and Iraq wars that are already overstretching US forces.

“If you’d asked me a year ago, I’d have said yes,” said John Bolton, the hawkish former US ambassador to the United Nations. “Today I’d say, I don’t know.”

It is clear the military machinery for an attack is being put into place. More than 1,000 targets have been identified for a potential air blitz against Iran’s nuclear facilities, air defences and Revolutionary Guard bases, despite claims last week by Robert Gates, the defence secretary, that the planning was merely “routine”.

And, yes, there is a rush.

The question of timing is becoming ever more urgent, now that Bush has fewer than 15 months left in the White House. Confidants say he is determined not to bequeath the problem of a nuclear Iran to his successor and regards it as an important part of his legacy.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but given Bush's lack of compassion or consideration for anyone who isn't him, I doubt whether Bush gives a red rat's ass about what problems his successor inherits. Let's face it: he's going to leave them his complete and utter screw-ups in Afghanistan and Iraq at the very least.

No. This has more to do with Bush's ego and his desire for a legacy. That's why Rice is scurrying around, consorting with the Bush administration's political enemies, trying to figure out how diplomacy works. This is desperation.

It is also clear that the future bombing of Iran and Rice's call for the creation of a Palestinian state are solidly linked.
In the wider Middle East, the conviction is growing that America is determined to launch an attack. Some well-placed Israeli and Palestinian sources suggest that next month’s Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, near Washington, could be the catapult for an ambitious plan to establish a Palestinian state and disarm Iran.

“The idea is to tie Palestine to Iran,” said an Israeli Middle East expert. “Israel will be obliged to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state within a short and firm timetable and the US administration will guarantee that the Iranian nuclear issue will be solved before Bush leaves office.”

If that sounds overly simplistic, it is.

This idea looks like another elementary school solution to a highly complex problem. The considerations which would have to brought into play would require months of study and legions of rational thinkers to develop a simple framework for discussions. The first question anyone toying with this idea should ask is, "Will the potential leaders of an Islamic Palestinian state tolerate the idea that a condition of their existence is linked to the military destruction of another Islamic country?"

But elementary school solutions are all the Bush administration is capable of mustering. The past actions of this administration is proof that they cannot do the hard stuff. They don't plan properly and they don't see consequences beyond the sight of their own jerking knees.

Remember this guy? John R. Bolton couldn't even get confirmed as US ambassador to the UN. Diplomacy clearly wasn't his style and the agenda he pushed while an insider of the Bush administration dismissed all forms of diplomacy as hampering US foreign policy. When interviewed he was combative and arrogant. He always insinuated that his constituency, PNAC and the American Enterprise Institute, had it right. Everyone else was just dumb.

Well, as promised, I provide you with the one person who claims that anything like a "grand strategy" or bargain will never happen. And it's not because the Bush administration doesn't want it.

But such a “grand bargain” is far too delicate and complicated to be attempted, according to Washington sources, even if it provides a subtext for some of the negotiations. “We’re not smart enough for that,” Bolton said bluntly.
For once, Bolton's vacant tact makes sense. He could have added "and we never were."

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