Thursday, June 21, 2007

Can we please live in the real world for a bit?

From The Washington Post:

The Bush administration is laying the groundwork for an announcement of Tony Blair's appointment as a special Middle East envoy for Palestinian governance and economic issues after he steps down as Britain's prime minister, following two months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, according to U.S. officials.

Blair would report to the Quartet overseeing Middle East peace efforts -- the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia -- and focus on issues limited to the internal workings of a future Palestinian state. Political negotiations involving Palestinians, Israelis and the Arab states would be left to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the officials said.

The idea, first proposed by Rice, was embraced by the Israeli government during talks between President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this week.

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair had his faults, and they were many, but as an ally to the United States we could not have asked for a better friend.

This is why it strikes me as a bit cruel for the Bush administration to work so hard to set him up for failure by landing him a job which he can not possibly succeed at. No one can bring a functioning state out of the dysfunctional morass into which the Palestinian people have managed to sink themselves.

But then an unlimited optimism, without any grounding in concrete reality whatsoever, about the future prospects for a peaceful settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians seems to be not just the default setting of American foreign policy, but the only setting (and not just America, but the EU as well).

In WWII the Japanese fleet had been mostly sunk. The Japanese Army was mostly dead or in POW camps. The Japanese economy was in ruins and their cities were being systematically reduced to ash heaps by Allied fire bombing and it still took a second atomic bomb to force them to surrender.

And even then there was an attempted military coup to keep the Emperor's surrender decree from being broadcast so that Japan could continue the war.

Perhaps Washington and Tel Aviv (and Brussels too, if everybody wants to keep pretending that the EU counts for anything) should devote just a bit of planning to what they will do if the Palestinians prove to be as intransigent as the Japanese.

After all that is only what every last historical FACT we have at our disposal tells us their attitude will be.