Condoleezza Rice looked like she meant business during her recent trip to Israel. George Bush wants to unite the Arab world behind him before going after Iran, but such an ambitious undertaking would require significant progress in the Israeli/Palestine conflict.
King Abdullah had just proposed a grand bargain for Israel, one that Uri Avnery reminds us Israel would have lapped up in 1967:
If the Arab world had made us this offer on June 4, 1967, we would have raised our eyes to heaven, lit candles, and uttered the old Jewish blessing: “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the world, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this day.”
Predictably, Israel saw an opportunity for peace and chose expansionism.
Condoleezza arranged a showdown with Olmert and was ready to submit an ultimatum. But it seems that at the last moment new instructions came from the White House: Let go and come home.
The message was unmistakable: What Rice had to say barely mattered. Olmert had it all worked out with the president. Rice did not like it, but proceeded according to plan in convening the triple summit in Jerusalem with Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The summit came and went with no real effect.
The two professors, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, won this round. In this clash between the national interests of the United States and the government of Israel and its America fans, the Israeli side won.
The steamroller did not roll. Condoleezza went to Olmert and sat with him for three hours. Her final statement sounds more like the purring of a domestic cat than the snarling of a predator.
The contempt Israel has for the US has never been more brazenly displayed. AIPAC have been relentless in their demands that Washington confront Iran, yet when arguably the most pro Israeli US president in memory asks Israel to make concessions, Israel refuses to give an inch.
What better example of Walt and Mearsheimer’s thesis?