After all that trouble George W. Bush caused with his foolish speech before the Israeli Knesset condemning negotiation with bad guys, it turns out that no one in the Middle East, including Israel, is paying the slightest attention to him. Even his own secretary of state seems to be disagreeing with him in public. Such are the wages of the lame duck, more especially when his favorability rating is 22%.
It turns out that Israel has been negotiating indirectly through Turkey with Syria, over Bush’s strong objections.
This interview with Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the US, on the Israel-Syria negotiations.
And now the March 14 Movement in Lebanon has come back from Doha, Qatar with an agreement hammered out with Hizbullah. The agreement was made necessary because Bush had been pushing the Lebanese government to take on Hizbullah, and when it did, Hizbullah beat the pants off them. Although it is being said that the agreement makes Hizbullah powerful, actually it seems to me just to take us back to the status quo ante of 2005-2006 when Hizbullah was part of a national unity government and there was a relatively pro-Syrian general as president. (Gen. Michel Suleiman may have become more independent of Damascus recently, but he has a long history of close cooperation with Syria.)
See also Josh Landis, Syria Comment.
Bush has painted himself into the corner of irrelevance. It isn’t just that he is a lame duck. It is that his policy prescriptions are completely impractical and end up making his allies cut off their noses to spite their faces.
‘ “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” said the president. “We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” ‘
His aides told reporters on background that the reference was to Barack Obama’s stated willingness to negotiate with Iran. (Obama had said he would not talk to Hamas, though John McCain has admitted that such talks are inevitable).
Then Dana Perino and other Bushie sold-souls denied that the reference was to Obama, once they figured out that Bush’s performance had not gone over well with the American people (sniping at an American political opponent from a perch abroad, speaking to another government, is generally considered bad form).
McCain took the hint Bush was offering him, and piled on.
Obama defended himself ably:
So this is the reality of the Middle East. Rivals who hate each other nevertheless talk with one another. It is called tawassut or mediation. It is an old social institution.
American voters have a choice of a Bush clone who will drive our allies into reckless wars they cannot win; or someone with the sense to keep the lines open. Everyone else does.