Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rice's Latest ME Shoe-shopping Trip

I don't know why Condi Rice even bothers going to the Middle East anymore. I suppose she's expected too since it is in her job description but the more she visits, the more well-deserved flak she gets. That's what happens when the administration you work for gave up on any kind of peace process a la "road map" long ago. She might as well just pop into Israel to play the piano and buy some shoes and be done with it. This masquerading as a Secretary of State over there has worn pretty damn thin.

As one critic puts it:

"She has 18 months to become a consequential secretary of state," said Aaron David Miller, a former adviser on Middle East issues to both Republican and Democratic administrations. "The way to become a consequential secretary of state is to take a problem that normal human beings know is hard and make it better."

She's obviously failed. 18 more months isn't going to make one bit of difference.

While she's gallavanting over there this weekend, the Egyptian government has basically told her to take a flying leap:

On Sunday morning Rice will have talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at a meeting expected to touch on Egyptian domestic politics and constitutional changes which will go to a national referendum on Monday.

Rice said on Friday the United States was concerned and disappointed by the constitutional changes, which human rights and Egyptian opposition groups have called a step away from freedom and democracy.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit dismissed her criticism as unwarranted interference in Egyptian affairs. "Only the Egyptian people have the right to say their views on that referendum... If you are not (Egyptian), then thank you very much. It's our own development, our own country," he said.

But, she's dreaming about one day in the future when (it sure won't be while she's around) "the U.S. might one day propose its own solutions to the most vexing problems dividing Israel and the Palestinians, such as the borders of an eventual independent Palestinian state." And that isn't happening now because...?

And she isn't even taking the peace process seriously anymore, reducing her role to some quasi Ann Landers advice column status:

In the meantime, Rice said, she wants to use meetings like those she will attend in coming days in Jerusalem and the West Bank to draft a common set of questions and concerns on both sides. She gave no timetable for either effort but made clear that the United States would be at the center of them.

"I don't rule out that at some point that might be a useful thing to do," Rice said when asked about presenting a set of U.S. proposals to settle enduring problems that have scuttled past negotiations for peace.

That's about as firm as Jello™.

Meanwhile, at the UN:

Israel: Lebanon Cease-Fire in Jeopardy

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's defense minister told the head of the United Nations on Saturday that the U.N.-brokered cease-fire in southern Lebanon is endangered by Hezbollah militants, who continue to hold two captured Israeli soldiers and receive arms shipments from Syria.

Luckily, Ban Ki-moon isn't quite as one-sided as Israel's government would like him to be:

Ban has criticized both Israel and Lebanon for violating the resolution, noting an increase of Israeli military overflights of its northern neighbor in February and early March. He has suggested an independent mission examine the monitoring of their border amid the Israeli allegations of Syrian arms smuggling.

Well, almost not quite as one-sided:

In Cairo, Ban said he welcomed the formation of the week-old Palestinian coalition government, which adds moderates and independents to an administration formerly made up entirely of members of the hard-line Islamist group Hamas. He urged the coalition to live up to the international community's demands that it recognize Israel and work toward peace.
Ban said he would not meet Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, citing a busy schedule. He said he would, however, meet with Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr, an independent.

So, the Palestinian people will continue to suffer under financial boycotts by the west due to the presence of a coalition government they democratically elected while Israel's government is saber-rattling against Lebanon - again - acting as if it has no responsibilty in the tensions with that country.

And what's Condi doing about all of this? Nothing besides standing by and watching the suffering continue on all sides as she pretends she's actually making a difference. I mean, really, when she gets a weak headline like this: Rice: U.S. may offer ideas for Mideast, is there anything left to say about her ineffectiveness?

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