Funny thing happened recently. Or, rather, it didn't. A hunk of juicy news broke, hit the wires and fell with a thud into media oblivion. No one cared. And what did no one care about? Let me quote from the original Reuters story: "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 (in Annapolis) this year."
Wait a minute. Rice has turned to Bill Clinton, who famously told Yasser Arafat, "You have made me a failure," and whose wife, of course, is running for president as the anti-Bush? And to Jimmy "Day 444 of the Hostage Crisis" Carter, who can't stand the Bush administration almost as much as he can't stand Israel? The last time these two ex-presidents got together, they sealed a deal with Kim Jong-Il that, in exchange for a promise to eschew nuclear weapons, delivered nuclear technology to North Korea. She's turning to them for tips?
Rub your eyes in bewilderment, but there's more: "Other sources of advice have been former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross and ex-secretaries of state James Baker, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright." The names to cause special dismay here are James "(expletive) the Jews" Baker, and Madeleine "running wild after Arafat" Albright. (Not that Dennis Ross, who never met a peace process he couldn't draw out, or Henry Kissinger, who may be regarded as the original architect of the U.S. policy that has consistently barred Israel from total victory over her enemies, exactly inspire confidence.)
So let's recap. Rice is "reaching out," as her State Department spokesman put it in New Age diplo-speak, to living legends of failed U.S. policy in the Middle East, including among them some of the most hostile critics of her own Bush administration, the war on terror, Israel or all of the above. This is at least bizarre enough to raise a few questions.
Or am I being harsh? Hah. For decades, American Middle East policy has been set according to a Big Lie: that two sides, Jew and Muslim, were equally desirous of peaceful coexistence. This is demonstrably false. Only Israel desires peaceful coexistence with the Arabs; the Arabs only desire Israel's annihilation. That's why the "peace" American policy continually chases can never be more than a "process" -- a process, in fits and starts that comes closer to its own hideous conclusion with every successive administration. For what can put an end to such a lie-based "process" but the end of Israel itself? Certainly, the long, wearing process has degraded the very concept of Israel -- the idea of inviolable sovereignty, borders, capital -- even identity. It was a long way from "Gaza, Never!" to "Gaza, Take it!" -- but not, of course, too long for the peace process. It's been a long way from "Jerusalem, Never!" to "Jerusalem, It might be negotiable," and now the next stage in the process looms in Annapolis. And there's always a next stage. But the longer the peace process goes on, the more vulnerable Israel becomes to Arab conquest -- and the more vulnerable the concept of Israel becomes to the next stretch of peace process.
So, Condi is looking for "tips" from Bill Clinton, who wound down his administration so obsessed with the "peace process" in the Middle East -- a legacy to trump his impeachment -- that he barely noticed the USS Cole attack on Oct. 12, 2000. And from Albright, probably best remembered for clacking down a long corridor in high heels to implore a miffed Arafat to return to "the table" -- and a lot of good that did, demeaning the United States in the process.
And what about Carter? Despite Camp David -- where credit belongs to Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin -- this is downright nuts. It's not just that the ex-president has called the Bush administration that Rice works for the worst in history. (After all, he's also called Kim Jong-Il a "vigorous and intelligent man.") But in an all-too-active post-presidency, Carter has behaved outrageously -- from efforts to thwart international support for George Bush (the father) in the first Gulf War, to recent statements in support of the terrorist group Hamas -- that you have to wonder how Rice could even pick up the phone to call him. And then what would she say? And, finally, why?
Too bad no one cares to find out.