"Israel and the Palestinians are still at odds over a joint document for the conference, which would serve as a launch pad for negotiations on core issues such as borders and the fate of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees.
Israel has insisted that any future agreement be put into effect only after the Palestinians met their obligations under a U.S.-backed peace "road map" charting reciprocal steps towards statehood.
The 2003 blueprint requires Palestinians to crack down on militants and for Israel to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and remove dozens of outposts set up without Israeli government permission." NY Times
"core issues such as borders and the fate of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees" Oh! Is that all?
This is a sick joke. The United States still does not "get" the picture on the Arab/Israeli problem. The truth is that the two groups are, in reality, unwilling to share "Eretz Israel/Ard Filastiin between them. There is no good will in either group toward the other except in the hearts of a valiant and persistent few. Diplomacy in pursuit of a genuine peace is an illusion brought on by the brilliant tactical maneuvering and cynical information operations of the disputants.
Rice is merely preparing the ground for the final destruction of her reputation at Annapolis. Dennis Ross experienced a similar met-down at Camp David 2 when he egregiously and massively over-reached. He survived, but then, he had more faithful friends than Rice is likely to have. Bye Bye Nobel Prize.
The United States has far more serious problems in the Levant than the pursuit of this chimera. The real "long pole in the tent" is the Israeli nuclear "force de frappe" and the circumstances under which Israel might feel compelled to use it with or without American knowledge or agreement.
The Syrian air strike farce is not re-assuring in this matter. It is increasingly clear that the target was insignificant and that the motivation for the attack is buried in the collective Israeli psychology of insecurity, siege and unwillingness to rely on anyone else (including the US) for anything.
The US should stop worrying about diplomacy among the mischievous and start worrying more about possible strategic catastrophe. pl
What you say seems correct. But how can Israel survive in the end without a peaceful accommodation? The Israelis’ situation resembles the Boers’. If Israel uses nuclear bombs its situation will resemble Germany’s after its invasion of Russia in WW II.
“The Annapolis conference fits perfectly into this scheme: hollow declarations, another conference without results, a meaningless exhibition.”
“Some say that the most important thing is to talk, because “when you are talking you are not shooting.” That is a dangerous illusion. In our case, the opposite is true: when you talk for the sake of talking while the occupation deepens, despair is gaining ground and the shooting has never really stopped. The failure of Annapolis may well trigger the outbreak of the Third Intifada.”
This Week’s Message
אמת מול אמת
On a macro level, this is probably correct.
However, on a micro level, viewing this scene as a lone poster based in Appalachian Ohio, all I can do is shake my head. What can any of us do with this information?
It could make some sense to put in a heat pump. My oil furnace is a headache anyway.
But that presumes that civil society will persist within the United States despoite Col. Lang’s warnings. And that, among other things, is now being thrown into the kitty.
This is all for show. I doubt any of the parties genuinely expects to make any sort of progress, let alone to stumble on the Rosetta Stone that settles the conflict. It’s happening mainly because the flat footed administration let itself get backed into stating that progress must occur. So a meeting has been called. So long as each side feels it is locked in an existential struggle there will be no peace. I doubt that any regional governments are encouraging the Palestinians to make any deals right now.
Some of the roadmap elements have happened – less Palestinian attacks on Israelis, a dampening of some settlements and expansion. But plenty of backsliding as well, on both sides.
This will not add laurels to Rice’s CV, but I think her reputation has further depths to plumb yet.
Perhaps you are suggesting that the US (its current actions and policy in the region) is hostage to Israel’s nuclear intent? I had not considered that.
But what repercussions would Israel fear from their use of nuclear weapons? Loss of trade and diplomatic favor with the West and Japan? Not sufficient, I think.
Egypt Turkey and Jordan have all found their accommodations with Israel. I think they do not deceive themselves, nor have they disregarded Israel’s abundant nuclear and military forces.
The initiatives to declare a nuclear free zone in the Middle East was a promising vector. It was clearly directed at Israel. If it had been adopted, there would have been more enthusiasm for restraining Iran, as well.
I don’t think that Israel struck the Syrian site (whatever it was) out of fear. Probably wasn’t a nuclear anything.
I hope that lightning does strike at this meeting. Honor and praise be upon them if it does.
Col. I agree with everything you eloquently stated.
IMHO, the Israeli position is to keep the total pressure on the Palestinians so the Pals will be forced to accept whatever is unilaterally offered to them (The Separation Fence).
This hasn’t worked so far and I seriously doubt it will work in the future.
The Palestinian position does not exist because of the election Condi and Dumbya forced resulting in the current Chimera (genetics) Pals government.
About Condi getting a Noble Prize, please Col., let her be happy with her Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Just want to add that if the issue is not address in fair manner, the “possible strategic catastrophe” will be a reality from Mediterranean Sea to the Indus River.
What you wrote is sensible but not possible in the near future.
In the war between Judaism and Islam US has taken sides.
Until and unless she extricates herself from that war [“we have no dog in that fight”] she will not be able to concentrate “more about possible strategic catastrophe”
No progress will be made in any facet of the Middle East situation until the Israelis can be persuaded to give up their nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, we were willing to lose Washington DC over West Berlin. We must be prepared to offer the same to Israel, offering the same protection to them in exchange for a verifiable Israeli nuclear disarmament. That gets rid of the primary motivation for any Arab (or Persian) state to acheive nuclear status. But, I’ll put down the crack pipe now and quit dreaming.
Col: I negotiate for a living. All solutions actually come from fear, uncertainty, or pain. The reason that Dennis Ross’s strategy, i.e., a strong Israel is a compromising Israel, is useless is because strong sides DON’T negotiate: They take!
Can you imagine what Israel’s negotiating position would be if THEY were subjected to the same embargo that has been dropped on the Palestinians?
In the ME negotiations are usually not what we are used to. There, they are not a hegelian dialectic process. They are simply a polite way to arrange the terms of surrender.
The Israeli case with nuc weapons is different. The problem is that they do not accept the logic of MAD. They do not believe that an opponent can be allowed to possess such weapons because the country could not survive a first strike by the adversary. pl
The only peace possible is one imposed from the outside by the US. EU . Russia. China and the Arab league, cutting both the Israelis and the Palestinians out of the negotiating process.
Before you say this is impossible imagine a scenario where Hillary gets elected, appoints Bill Clinton as ambassador to solve the problem. Also realize that Bill Clinton wants a Nobel Prize in the worst way so he can stick a finger in the eye of those poeple that impeached him.”Lets Make a Deal” here we come.
These talks are designed to fail and the designer is Israel because they believe that they can gain more by negotiating after Iran and Syria have been neutralised (bombed into the stone age).
Without Syria and Iran, what friends do the Palestinians have? Israel could then offer the Paslestinians a “Take it or leave it” ultimatum, with the threat of genocide to back it up.
Richard Whitmnan and Walrus:
You fail to appreciate the religious nature of this war in Palestine/Israel.
There is no peaceful possible any longer; you have to wait for the exhaustion of the religious impulse on all sides.
And you heard it first from me.
Pat said: “The Israeli case with nuc weapons is different. The problem is that they do not accept the logic of MAD. They do not believe that an opponent can be allowed to possess such weapons because the country could not survive a first strike by the adversary.”
Wrt to Israel and MAD, I’ve said the same thing here previously.
And without an acceptance of an ME MAD, their view seems to be that the only “viable” option left them is Iran in flames.
That is apparently the “sorry” state of Israeli strategic thinking these days or put another way, they’ve painted themselves into a corner with no other way out.
Their opponents in the ME are never going to “surrender”. Who would? I wouldn’t.
And wrt to Israel’s attack on Syria, the questions of “what was the message” and “who was it for” seem to point to Iran.
If so, these were my thoughts posted last week on another blog:
“Rice is merely preparing the ground for the final destruction of her reputation at Annapolis.” But she will surely put on a great show–if she can get all the actors in place. Sadly, she still does not realize that it’s not the show that counts, it’s results. But the phrase “Condi’s results” are a true oxymoron.
Nukes or not, Israel’s strategic advantage is shrinking as her neighbors get more accurate and more powerful missiles. Hezbolllah demonstrated Israel’s achilles heel last year. If Israel could recognize the writing on the wall she would sue for peace immediately instead of aggravating the situation and probably provoking the next confrontation, which will be far more damaging to Israel without any improvement in security.
And on the related topic of the Syria Strike, how about this?
The Syria Strike?
This is a “story” constructed of connecting fanciful and imaginary dots. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. *g*
The MSM has variously reported on the Israeli’s strike against a Syrian “Nuclear Facility”. There is a great deal of rumors about just what took place, how it was done and what the meaning of it is.
Speculate along with me here.
MSM reports state that Israeli F-15s, F-16s and at least one EW/ECM aircraft penetrated Syria’s borders to destroy a nascent Syrian Nuclear Facility. The original MSM reports also had “drop tanks” found in neighboring Turkey.
Additionally, the original MSM reports had “claims” by unidentified Israelis that stated they had “successfully” spoofed the Syrian radar facilities so that the Syrians didn’t even “see” the Israeli aircraft. And it was also intimated by the same unidentified Israelis to be a “warning” to the Iranians who used the very same Russian-supplied radar, that these very same type of radar facilities in Iran would also never “see” an attack coming.
Now, as many here know, it is de rigueur in the black world of intelligence, to “mask” ones operations with “constructed” cover stories. Cover stories that may contain partial truths, but those partial truths are designed to lead one away from the real story.
Consider the previously described MSM “reports” as part of the “cover story”. They contain “partial truths” to lead one away from the real truth.
Put on your tin-foil hat and allow me to “speculate” on that real truth.
First, there were no Israeli F-15s, F-16s or EW/ECM aircraft involved in the Syrian strike.
The US has recently been in the process of “retiring” the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters (they are in fact not fighters at all, but really just light bombers). Per Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-117_Nighthawk:
Second, take a look at this article summary from the Jerusalem Post:
Third, remember that George W. Bush would not comment under any circumstances about the Israeli strike on the Syrian “facility” and nor would any other highly placed Administration officials. The only thing that unidentified highly-placed Administration officials would say was that all of the information regarding this was tightly held to only a very few individuals in the Administration, and that they even excluded from almost all of the US intelligence and defense community.
What if the following happened?
The US provided its “retired” F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters to Israel. In sufficient numbers that Israel could form up a squadron of F-117s.
The US didn’t need the F-117s anymore, since the far more stealthy B-2 Spirit bomber was more efficient and effective as a bomber, and the fact that far more stealthy F/A-22 Raptors as fighters and attack aircraft are now in operational squadron-level service.
The Israelis would be more than happy to have the stealthy “hand-me-downs” since they wouldn’t be seeing their newer F-35 JSFs until 2012. Too late for folks who are contemplating how to successfully strike Iran and live to strike another day.
After Israeli pilots had undergone all necessary F-117 training here and in Israel, the “powers-that-be” in both Israel and the US, approved of a plan to operationally test the Israeli F-117 squadron with a real, live mission.
The plan was to:
1. Ingress into Syrian airspace undetected by their relatively new Russian-supplied radar facilities in order to prove that F-117 stealth was still effective. These same relatively new Russian-supplied radar facilities are also the mainstay of Iran’s radar systems.
2. Destroy a nascent Syrian military facility (could be a nuclear reactor under construction or something else).
3. Egress from Syrian airspace, again being undetected all the while.
The rationale behind the plan was for the Israelis to “test-drive” their new F-117 squadron against a real, live enemy in preparation for a larger, more meaningul mission against a similarly-defended Iran.
Another part of the rationale is that it would be less “political” trouble here in the US if it was the Israelis who took on Iran rather than the US. The added benefits to the Israelis would be a boost in their nation’s morale and ego if it were viewed on the world stage as another successful Israeli “Osirak Raid”, as well as the benefit the Israelis would derive of continued “strength” and “superiority” in the eyes of their Muslim foes.
So there you have it. A fanciful tale, imaginatively told.
I am not American and therefore am only likely to read the speeches or writings of America’s founding fathers by coincedence or over a particular topic. And completely by chance, I came across the 1796 farewell address of one George Washington, and in reading the below, which Im sure is nothing new to most of you, I was quite simply stunned.
Sometimes it takes this kind of foresight to allow one to understand the strength and popularity of a historical figure. For surely in these paragraphs are warnings about everything this administration is, was and always will be.
Colonel, I disagree this administration doesn’t get the picture. What I believe has happened is that yet again they have been duped. Abbas has, knowingly, sold them a bill of goods that he could not possibly deliver. They signed up to a plan that saw Hamas removed from the equation and left a supine Abbas in charge. Yet again, an Arab leader has used American (and Israeli) refusal to deal with its enemies as his base to seize power. And now he has the power he is reneging on his part of the bargain on the simple basis that he cannot deliver the “surrender” required without facing serious reprecussions from his own populace.
I do think the US has more serious issues in the Levant but I do not think Israels nuclear arms are they. I am of the opinion that Israels nukes are an armageddon option. They are a “if we go down were taking you all with us” threat. Using them in a non-existential or non-retaliatory way would be politically suicidal. There may be antipathy amongst many Arab nations for Iran but the use of anything nuclear would cause such outrage that I believe many regimes, especially those on friendly terms with Israel, would fall.
The US’s biggest issue I think right now is Lebanon. As I said nearly a year ago on here, there are plans for the country. It may be a small country but it embodies on a micro level the entire Middle East. What happens over the next months or year in lebanon will be a reflection on what happens in the rest of the ME. If Hizballah and the oppositon falls, Lebanon falls and if Lebanon falls Israel has won. If the Lebanese opposition wins, it may be a spark that sets the rest of the region to oppose its established Western leaning regimes. Thats why Rice wants no compromises. Thats why minor leaders, warlords, war criminals and men only last year blacklisted from the US, are suddenly being given private audiences in the Oval office.
Like Walrus suggests, the plan is to remove any hope of support for the Palestinians and remove any nationalist movements able to interfere in the great plan for the middle East. It is no coincedence that only those opposed to and able to fight Israel are those that have in the past year been targeted by the US.
As Washington said, as long as there is this “passionate attachment of one nation for another” and that attachemnt continues to produce “a variety of evils” which “betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter”, there will be no need for Israel to even think about using its nukes.
P.s. Babak, I dont know why you have this fixation for the religious aspect of the Arab/israeli war. I have never thought that there was need of religion to oppose colonialism, oppression or ethnic cleansing.
<"possible strategic catastrophe">
Dead on. And we are lving today within the unfolding strategic catastrophe. If, as General Odum says, the Iraq War is the greatest “strategic mistake” in US history, it follows that the consequences may well reflect this over time.
Meanwhile, the incompetence of this Administration seemingly knows no bounds. But this is a reflection of the disintegration and decadence of the US foreign policy Establishment generally whether “Republican” or “Democrat”.
At the institutional level in the military or at State, there are no General (and Secretary of State) George Marshalls or Amb. George Kennans, or Amb. Chip Bohlens or Amb. DKE Bruces.
Condi is a creature of the media and hype and there is no “there there.” She was a pupil of Madeleine Albright’s father, professor Josef Korbel (Koerbel) and given her bigggest push upward by George Schultz.
IMO, one can argue that Elliott Abrams has the real influence on US Middle East policy. Condi is window dressing.
Mo writes: P.s. Babak, I dont know why you have this fixation for the religious aspect of the Arab/israeli war. I have never thought that there was need of religion to oppose colonialism, oppression or ethnic cleansing.
While I wouldn’t use the word ‘need’ in this context a strong case can be made for the inevitability of religion as a means of resistance. I would prefer the term Muslim political consciousness myself, a logical consequence of the failed project of Palestinian secular nationalism that began with the PLO’s 1970 charter, which has no mention of Islam.
Babak may be correct that religion has to exhaust itself in order for any solution to occur but I doubt that will happen any time soon. In any case, a rejuvenated sense of Palestinian ‘Muslimness’, if one can be allowed such a barbarous phrase, is likely to be the only resistance to Rice’s map of Palestine, which is likely to have the sinuous contours of a gerrymandered Texas congressional district, and be just as representative.
To Mo’s point about religion resisting colonialism. It might be useful to take a look at the 19th century anti-Imperialist movement in the United States. William Vaughan Moody wrote some interesting poems on the subject, one of which includes the lines:
“Blind as the eyes of pearl in Buddha’s brow
his beaded eyes stared thwart upon the road;
and feebler than the doting knees of eid,
his joints, of size to swing the builder’s crane
across the war-walls of the Anakim,
made vain and shaken haste.”
The ‘he’ is a stumbling elephant while the daunting metaphor of the ‘doting knees of eid’ was a critique of the failure of quietist Islam to oppose Western imperialism/colonialism; ironic enough in light of the current day.
Careful reading of the Islamist position usually reveals some geographical concern about encroachment into the Dar as-Salaam, an important and ultimately irrefutable theological justification for religious resistance to any form of colonialism, however well meaning it might be.
Supporting evidence for Mad Dog’s “tale” is the Al-Jazeera report: that it was American planes involved in the Syrian raid. The use of stealth “fighters” (light bombers) would give that impression as well as solving the radar detection failure problems.
The push that religion gives to those fighting coloniolism etc. is beyond debate. I do not, for example, deny for a second that groups such as Hizballah do not see it as their religious duty to oppose occupiers etc.
What I do do not agree with is any assertion that were it not for the majority religions involved on either side (lets not forget there are those of other religions and of no religion aligned with both sides), there would be no conflict. The conflict, from an Arab perspective at least, is based on opposition of colonialism. The religious aspect provides the strength and motivation and yes, some use it as a tool to better their personal position or propogate an anti-Jewish line true, but the religious aspect is secondary.
> It is increasingly clear that the target [of the Israeli strike in Syria] was insignificant.
I’ve been trying to follow this as closely as possible and would say that, as of this hour, nothing is clear about the affair. Syria put up a very large building in a very strange place at least five years ago and Israel bombed it on 6 September 2007. All else is conjecture at this point.
Anyone care to comment about the Saudi innitiative, which has been siting around since the late 1970s?
A full and complete normalisation of all ties with all Arab states and Israel in return to a Palestine based on 1967 borders.
This was voted for and passed in the Arab League. Israel, of course, wasnt interested. Why agree to a 1967 border when their “self created” facts on the ground and support of the USA means they do not have to?
If the US were to tell Israel that they would cease all support for the state if they do not accept this very fair agreement, the Israelis would have to agree. However, we all know there is ZERO political will in the US to force Israel to do anything.
On the one side you have Israel; the “homeland of the Jewish people” in which the Rabbinate has a lot of (un-)official power, where the national anthem speaks of the “longing in the soul of a Jew”, etc.
On the other side, you have all the Muslims of the World that will never ever agree to Jewish control over the Al Haram Al Sharif.
To my knowledge, I am a minority of one in acknowledging the power of religious ideas over the minds of men in this case.
I do not think that I have a “fixation” on religion – as you say [a psychological term]. I am sharing a certain view point that I think is more pertinent and captures more of the Truth of the situation than alternative explanations.
>>>>The US should stop worrying about diplomacy among the mischievous and start worrying more about possible strategic catastrophe<<< I have real doubts whether most Americans CAN imagine such a catastrophe could happen. And therein lies the main problem: arrogance and lack of doubt that such a thing to happen to the 'sole remaining Superpower'. Cut off supply lines....soldiers trapped, full scale ground wars? Could not happen on 'our' watch.
//Tin foil hat on//: The element of the droptanks also sound like a careful part of a plan. How hard is it to rigg a destruction mech. in these to blow them up as they fall? And why the “careful placement” inside Turkey? Hmmm.//Tin foil hat off//
I did not mean to use the term fixation as a deragatory psychological term; Only that we have had this conversation before. And the Muslims of the world, or at least the Arab world do not object to the existence of Israel on the basis of its control of Jerusalem. We opposed it before 67 and will oppose it if they ever give back that half of Jerusalem. We oppose it because it is a country built on coloniolism and the ethnic cleansing of our Arab (Muslim or not) brothers from that land and our collective responsibility in helping them get justice.
I am afraid that we must agree to disagree.
“Supporting evidence for Mad Dog’s “tale” is the Al-Jazeera report: that it was American planes involved in the Syrian raid. The use of stealth “fighters” (light bombers) would give that impression as well as solving the radar detection failure problems.”
William Arkin in Early Warning at the Washington Post http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/earlywarning/
scroll down to 10/29/07 ‘What’s In Those Syria Satellite Shots?’ has some interesting links about this subject.
Also, not mentioned in any US MSM article is information that can be found in Syrian news articles right after the strike, namely that the Syrians claim to have detected and fired on the Israeli aircraft as they came out of Turkish airspace, the Israeli planes dropped their bombs and external fuel tanks to lighten the load and give them extra speed to evade Syrian missiles as they headed back to safety in Turkish airspace. In other words, the mission was aborted and a failure, and if it was a ‘dry run’ for Iran, then its back to the drawing board. I have also read on various sites that the Russians “claim” to have pierced the stealth capabilities of our fighters & bombers and have AA systems that can take them down (no hard facts, just speculation from various Russian comments). I don’t think that they have provided any of this to the Syrians or Iranians (yet) but it would be a great proving ground for such AA and give the US “cause to pause” before any strike at Iran. Think of a $2Billion bomber being shot down by a $2million missile. BTW: Didn’t some wag say that the B-2 cost so much it would have been cheaper to build it out of solid gold?
In the tempo of worrying about a possible strategic catastrophe in the Middle East, I would like to note that the Hasidic Rabbis of Satmar (Judaic but anti-Zionist) have issued a warning that odds are increasing of an Israeli attack on Iran. Here are the key words worth pondering from Satmar: “We mourn the fact that so many Jewish and non-Jewish lives are at the mercy of the Zionist regime, which by attacking Iran would certainly trigger a bloody conflict.”
Is it possible for Israel to attack Iran with complete and total disregard for the safety of the USM in Iraq? Odds are more than reasonable that it would. After all, no evidence that I am aware of suggests that the GOI took much interest in safeguarding the Americans in Beirut during the 06 second Lebanon war.
Of course, no evidence exists that the USG opposed such an action either. Did David Welch protest? Did Elliot Abrams scream in a patriotic rage, “What about the safety of Americans?”
The results of an Israeli attack on Iran would be catastrophic for the USM in Iraq. With such a war looming, I can’t help but believe that our number one strategic objective is to protect the Baghdad to Basra supply line by whatever means necessary. One would hope that the officers of the USM would demand that the USG stand up for the troops in Iraq, even if it means opposing Israel.
A Satmar Rabbi wrote a book that translated into the title, “The Unheeded Cry”. I hope that one day we do see a similarly titled book, “The Unheeded Cry: The US Military Catastrophe in Iraq”.