Ignatius on “Annapolis”

Fmep_v17n5west_bank_separation "What’s sad is that Rice knew precisely what was needed to make the process work. Annapolis called for a tripartite commission in which a U.S. representative would sit with both sides to monitor progress in improving security and living conditions. The Israelis even agreed that the U.S. representative should decide whether the road map conditions had been met. President Bush named Air Force Lt. Gen. William Fraser III to this mediating post in January. But so far, his commission hasn’t had a single three-way meeting. The first one is scheduled for Thursday, but there’s no plan to make a public report.

Rice also appointed a distinguished personal representative, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, back in November to study a framework for mutual security in a future Palestinian state. Jones has made just one fact-finding trip so far, and State Department officials believe that his mission hasn’t made much progress.

Lurking behind this stalemate is the sinister hand of Hamas. It was Rice who insisted that this militant Islamic group be allowed to participate in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, over strong protests from both Israelis and moderate Palestinians. Rice argued that the Islamic militancy represented by Hamas had to be given a political voice. But when Hamas won and predictably continued to reject Israel’s right to exist, the United States had no coherent follow-up strategy. A new article in Vanity Fair says that Washington secretly egged on the rival Fatah movement to stage a coup in Gaza, but Hamas moved first with a countercoup that expelled Fatah security forces. The Hamas militants kept firing their rockets, goading the Israelis toward the reinvasion of Gaza they launched Feb. 27 that nearly scuttled the post-Annapolis peace process.

What’s needed is some sort of cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. But Washington and Jerusalem stoutly insist that they will never negotiate with a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, they are quietly blessing an Egyptian effort to broker just such a cease-fire package. I’m sorry, but that is a lame strategy — letting others do secretly what you refuse to do openly.

Rice keeps insisting that she is serious about achieving an Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough before President Bush leaves office. But progress requires disciplined follow-through. Without it, you can add Annapolis to the dustbin. "  Ignatius


Ignatius is smarter than to have thought that the Rice/Bush braintrust had produced a "magic wand" at Annapolis.  This must be all a bit "tongue in cheek."

Clearly, Rice is not competent to run American diplomacy and foreign policy.  Did she really think that HAMAS would acknowledge Israel as a state once they were in power?  What fool thought that?  It must have been someone with a political science background who naturally (following the classic thought of that discipline) believed that the Islamc fervor and fanaticism of HAMAS was really just a "mask" for whatever it is that REALLY bothers them.

I was in the West Bank last month and drove from Jerusalem to Jenin.  It was an interesting experience, one in which the callous humiliation of Palestinian men by Israeli troops was as evident as Ignatius describes it.  We need to have Petraeus go for a visit and explain what "counterinsurgency" means. The Palestinian townspeople in the West Bank seem beaten down and quiet now.  That will not last long.

The Palestinians and Israel need a "truce?"  HUDNA anyone?  pl

See my posts on SST last year about Annapolis.


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24 Responses to Ignatius on “Annapolis”

  1. JohnH says:

    Rice is indeed incomparably incompetent, which begs the question: is it intentional? And what can you say about the self-respect of a person who would repeatedly screws up to please the boss?

  2. Don Bacon says:

    The “War on Terror” is eternal, they’ve told us, so obviously the US is just going through the motions on Annapolis, throwing a bone to the idealists who fail to see the benefits of unending war. We shouldn’t take Annapolis seriously; they don’t.

  3. arthurdecco says:

    Col Lang said: “Ignatius is smarter than to have thought that the Rice/Bush braintrust had produced a “magic wand” at Annapolis. This must be all a bit “tongue in cheek.””
    If indeed, Ignatius is “smarter” than a study of his own published words would indicate, wouldn’t that point to him being a propagandist rather than a reporter? I see no evidence of “tongue in cheek” here, though I certainly can identify the hubris, disingenuousness and deliberate distortions of fact.
    You gotta luv this one: “Lurking behind this stalemate is the sinister hand of Hamas.”
    Not “The Sinister Hand Of Hamas”?!? My gawd! I’m sceered! I’m sceered!
    Would that be the same Hamas that has held out the offer (for years!) for a long-term cease fire if only Israel would stop murdering it’s citizens and remove the barriers to Palestine’s trade and security? That same Hamas?
    Just checking.
    And Col. Lang, perhaps you could elucidate your reasons for stating:
    “It must have been someone with a political science background who naturally (following the classic thought of that discipline) believed that the Islamic fervor and fanaticism of HAMAS was really just a “mask” for whatever it is that REALLY bothers them.”
    Can you provide us with examples of Hamas’ “fanaticism” – from somewhere not connected to the Zionist scream machine?
    And I don’t think Hamas has ever made a secret out of what “REALLY bothers them”, their “Islamic fervor and fanaticism”, notwithstanding. All that’s required to know what they think is an internet connection and a good search engine – one capable of reaching around the silent barriers our most popular web search tools place in our way.

  4. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    In my opinion, the sooner that leaders of the USM start criticizing the tactics of the IDF, the better -not only for the US, but also the West, Israel, and the world. Someone needs to play the role of Bernard Fall, except in a new setting.
    There is a carefully cultivated perception among the US civilian public that the tactics of the IDF and USM are one and the same. (Hagee plays that up to the hilt, which I can only conclude that he hasn’t read Bernard Fall or even General Petraeus’ handbook).
    Actually, this perception is shared in the Arab and Muslim world as well. So pointing out differences would serve US security interests. It would help safeguard civilians.
    Such a task — a new Bernard Fall — would not be that difficult. All you would have to do is take the basic precepts in the Fall-Petraus tradition and then give proof that the IDF acts inconsistently. Precept – proof.
    What’s Hagee gonna do? Is he going to side with the IDF or the USM?
    And at least from what I can tell from my civilian perspective, in the world of counterinsurgency, the tradition of the IDF is the exact opposite of that of the USM. When I was in the West Bank, I kept thinking to myself, “Why didn’t the Israelis build hospitals and schools for the Palestinians where there are now settlers? ” And what happened to the golden rule first set out for the public by Bernard Fall that goes something like this: to win, the people and the military must emerge on the same side of the struggle.
    All IDF tactics seems to suggest the opposite: ethnic cleansing, economic starvation, and humiliation. Just go through a couple of check points. It is hard to come to any other conclusion.
    At least from what I can tell, since 67, maybe 48, the IDF has never been able to successfully wage counter-insurgency along the lines of the West. Here’s why, again best I can tell. The national ethos of Israel went the route of Jabotinsky, not Martin Buber. Big mistake. As a result, the objective of the IDF goes beyond even burn the village to save the village. The strategic objective of the IDF is simply burn the village. Such a strategic objective will not work in the 21st century, if ever at all. This may explain Martin Van Creveld’s despondency in his 03 interview. And to make it worse, in Israel, Van Creveld is a pariah.
    And I also will note that, when I took a trip to the Mount of Olives, I noticed that the IDF would bring busload after busload of soldiers to the overlook at the Mount so they could spend time contemplating the view of Old Jerusalem. They all seemed to stare interminably at the Dome of the Rock. I could not help but wonder why. And then, later on, I saw in hotels and shops several examples of artwork where the “third Temple” had been rebuilt at the place of the Dome of the Rock. Is taking out the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the third Temple part of the Israeli ethos, either unconsciously or consciously? Gorenberg has written extensively on this topic.
    Finally, as someone at sst mentioned in an earlier comment, Palestinians have many of the “menial” jobs in the Israeli economy. This is true. Once again, I could only think of Bernard Fall’s book — Street Without Joy. At some point, this situation — everyone is a potential terrorist — will start playing with the Israeli mind. To put in psychological terms, it is as if unseen forces in the unconscious start to rattle the cage of a disconnected ego. Not good. Not even sure a collective memory can overcome this fear. But I dunno’ for sure. I prefer Martin Buber.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think blaming Dr. Rice in this case is unfair. She works at the pleasure of the President of the United States, following the President’s wishes.
    In fact, Mr. Mottaki, the Foreign Minister of Iran recently quipped that women in US government seem to have a better grasp of the world than men and mentioned both Dr. Rice and Dr. Albright as examples of clear-sighted thinking in USG.
    In regards to Annapolis: it was a US obligation to a number of other states that was duly discharged.
    What Col. Lang describes of the check points in the West Bank has been going on at least since 2000. All this was supposed to break the will of the Palestinians’ to resist. [Just like in 2000 when Israeli Army took the entire archives of the Palestinian Institute for Social Research to Israel; Palestinians were to have no national knowledge of them selves.]
    I agree with Col. Lang; it might be possible to have a Hudna given the religious dimension of that war but even that would require Israel leaving Jerusalem – in my opinion.

  6. Homer says:

    Re: HAMAS would acknowledge Israel as a state
    This brings to mind the question of whether or not **any** of the Iraqi political parties (esp. al-Dawa, SCIRI) have publically acknowledged Israel as a state.
    Have they?
    Does anyone know?
    Does the US and Israel now have a loyal ally in the heart of the ME with Iraq?

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Sidney O. Smith III:
    Israel cannot wage counter insurgency because the people against whom she is waging that effort are an alien people that neither she wants to include nor they wish to be included in Israel. Thus, the strategic context for counter insurgerncy campaign does not obtain.
    You are quite right about the Zionist project now leading to a more dangerous religious fantasy project.
    I cannot imagine what would transpire in case of any harm done to the Al Haram al Sharif. I think it would be a good idea for Israel to leave that area so as to avoid being held accountable for what befalls it.

  8. jon says:

    Bush and Rice came late to the Palestinian/Israeli impasse. Their actions here have not been distinguished, as they have not been elsewhere in the conduct of foreign policy.
    Resolution has bedevilled all others for sixty years, so it may be asking a bit much to expect this crew to make much progress. But it is not asking too much that they not make the situation worse.
    Israel, with US support backed Fatah into a corner and insisted that they be Israel’s enforcers in exchange for a limited and temporary pullout from the West Bank, which did not exclude continued increases in illegal settlements. Fatah was stripped of its credibility amongst its people and shown to be impotent, in addition to manifesting its own internal problems.
    Hamas benefitted from not laboring under the constraints of Fatah. Their election victory seems to have come as a bit of a surprise to them, and they assumed leadership hesitantly. Israel gave them no space to decide if they could become more nuanced in their policies, and temper their denials of Israel’s legitimacy. It certainly seemed as if Hamas was searching for a way make an overture to Israel, to govern for palestinians and not just their party, and not to lose too much face by retreating from a central plank. Hamas might have found that a bit easier if their leadership was not continually targeted for assassination.
    At this point Fatah has further undercut their legitimacy by collaborating extensively with Israel and the US. Having taken power in the West Bank, they need to deliver for their constituents and show some progress.
    Does Israel really want to spark a third Intifada, this time on three fronts? Ther actions in the last year do not seem designed to lower tensions and open any room for negotiation and resolution of any portions of the dispute. And Israel acts as if they will always have the full, continuous support of the US for all their actions. The US thus becomes complicit in their acts, which does not ease our task elsewhere in the Middle East.
    Rice and Bush shouldn’t be expected to douse this fire completely. But I’m surprised at how they have habitually and lackadaisically ignored the conflagration, then r episodically ushed to heap more fuel upon it.

  9. Jose says:

    1. You proposed a concert for the Middle East but Annapolis wasn’t even close.
    2. You stated that Annapolis was a good opportunity to make a deal with Syria so we could remove her from the Iranian influence instead Syria was humiliated and driven even closer to Iran.
    3. You stated a “Hudna” was necessary with Hamas but instead the US and Israel are trying to wipe it out and punishing the Pals for voting for their own interest.
    So why would you or anybody in here believe that Dr. Rice, Dumbya and the Neocons would base their decision on experience and knowledge of the area or even pain old common sense?

  10. Andy says:

    Babak is right about the inapplicability of COIN concepts in the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. Still, the US Military is distilling lesson’s learned, particularly from the 2006 war – it’s just that most of this is taking place under the radar, so to speak.
    Perhaps I’m wrong, but my understanding of Hamas’ long-term ceasefire demands is Israel must first complete withdraw to the 1967 borders. Depending upon the report, the demand also includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners and the creations of a geographic connection (or “land bridge”) between Gaza and the West Bank.

  11. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes, COIN in the absense of a deal is inapplicable. That is the point.
    Hamas has no agenda for a permanent solution with Israel other than the extinction of the Jewish state. Hudna is the best the Israelis can get. pl

  12. David W says:

    I would forgive anybody in America for not knowing what’s going down in Israel, given the one-sided propaganda that we are all fed by the MSM. I don’t, however, forgive the Bush regime for their craven stupidity.
    Paraphrasing Ignatius, ‘Lurking behind this stalemate is the sinister hand of Olmert and the Israeli government’–they are fetishizing the Hamas boogeyman so that they can refuse to negotiate a ceasefire (which Hamas has continually tried to do, as recently as a few weeks ago), much less a hundna.
    Unfortunately, I think that Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai’s call for a ‘holocaust’ in Gaza was no accident, but represents the logical end result of a bankruptcy of both ideas and ideals. I think this article explains the real strategy well enough:
    The Meaning of Gaza’s ‘Shoah’
    Regarding the ‘roadmap,’ we always hear the Israeli version of how the Pals aren’t living up to their end, yet, the illegal settlements continue unabated, and the promised demolitions have been reduced to one or two ‘Potemkin demolitions.’ The Bush cabal’s willingness to drop any pretense of objectivity or restraint is pathetic, and is serving both the US and Israel very poorly.
    The irony of Hamas is, of course, that they were elected, which has stripped bare the pretensions of Bush, and the machinations of the right-wing Israelis, who originally funded and supported Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO–will it ever become apparent to these idiots that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ is simply nice sounding bullshit?

  13. condfusedponderer says:


    Yes, COIN in the absense of a deal is inapplicable. That is the point.

    So what we see here is basically an attritionist campaign. As far as I understand it that the view that the enemy, the Islamists, must be decisively defeated, physically killed, is widely held among the Bush administration hard liners and Israelis hawks. The difference in views isn’t new. They do not think that the enemy has any meaningful point to make that is worth to be addressed.
    I think that for a hard line Zionist the idea of giving up land to hand it to the Palestinians is abhorrent. Thus they seek a way out of their dilemma and rely for a remedy on the one thing they’ve historically been so good at: Violence.
    I don’t think the Israeli hawks really think they need to make a deal because they see their superiority and do think that of they only apply enough force they can and will decisively win over the Palestinians, or Hezbollah. And a US ‘hands-off’ approach that tries to allow them to achieve just that (I mean, that must have been the point) only encourages such follies. One would think that the stalemate that resulted from their twenty years of application of such tactics would have taught them otherwise.

  14. arthurdecco says:

    “Perhaps I’m wrong, but my understanding of Hamas’ long-term ceasefire demands is Israel must first complete withdraw to the 1967 borders. Depending upon the report, the demand also includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners and the creations of a geographic connection (or “land bridge”) between Gaza and the West Bank.” Posted by Andy
    Yes, Andy, you are wrong about an immediate withdrawal to the 67 borders being a condition of the cease-fire.
    As a matter of fact, Hamas instituted a 2 year ceasefire without any assurances whatsoever from Israel in the hope that it would lead to a lessening of tensions so that they could get on with the business of governing Palestine responsibly.
    We’ve seen how Israel has taken advantage of that opportunity to forge a lasting peace, haven’t we?

  15. Curious says:

    There is no more negotiation left. It’s all military strategy from now on. Thanks to Condi and neocon crews for setting it up like this.
    – All hamas has to do is not lost. Obviously by now everybody notice they have the political and military discipline to carry on. (and it doesn’t take much to win. Everytime Israel enter Gaza, it’s their time to implement ‘southern lebanon’ strategy. Hamas only needs to introduce anti personal landmine, counter measure against light armored vehicles, and a way to use the barrier as part of strategy. Then it’s cat and mouse game. Drag it 5-10 yrs, Hamas will flip west bank too.)
    – Abbas is old, Next round of leadership will be third generation Fatah. No match for Hamas ground politics and organization. So the chance of westbank flipping to Hamas side is almost certain.
    – How long will Unifil last? 5-12 more years? I doubt it.
    – Lebanon politics is trending Hezbollah.
    – Egypt is flipping.
    – Global politics and economy simply does not support what Israel is doing much longer.
    – Domestic politics will soon turns inward due to massive economic downturn. Nobody will have appetite for foreign adventure. not with oil price climbing $1-10 for each match up.
    So, It’s pretty much Israel in the corner with neocon screaming on TV. The rest of the world just don’t care anymore.

  16. Jonathan House says:

    Dear Babak Makkinejad,
    can you refer me to any links or other sources on this point you made above:
    [Just like in 2000 when Israeli Army took the entire archives of the Palestinian Institute for Social Research to Israel;”…

  17. Andy says:

    The “long-term” offers I’ve read about are for 10-15 years, not 2, and do stipulate withdrawal to the 1967 borders as a minimum prerequisite. The shorter ceasefires seem driven by tactical considerations more than anything else. Regardless, a hudna may be beneficial in its own right by lowering the level of violence, but as Col. Lang noted, Hamas at the current time is not interested in a “permanent solution with Israel other than the extinction of the Jewish state.” In that regard, ISTM one must be suspicious of Hamas’ motivation in making such offers.
    I would, however, be interested in Col. Lang’s view on the chances for Hamas to moderate that stance over the long-term and if ceasefires of whatever duration might play any part in such a change.

  18. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The truce would be valuable in itself but IMO there is a good chance that a renewable truce might lead to a gradual mitigation of attitudes.
    I see no other hope for a solution. pl

  19. Charles I says:

    W/r/t “attrition”, though the link is not on the weekend page, a few days ago Debkafile reported that during her trip Rice greenlighted a further assassination campaign against not just senior Hamas operatives, but Gazan government ministers and institutions as well, presumably to clear the decks for reunification under Fatah leading to (as opposed to reaching) peaceful though thirsty “statehood”.
    Now news that Olmert has also greenlighted 750 more illegal houses in the Occupied Territories, a minor detour on the roadmap to peace, no doubt soon answered by 750 Qassams.
    Israel has no agenda for a permanent solution with the Palestinians other than the stillbirth of the Palestinian state. Hudna is the best the Palestinians can get.

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Jonathan House:
    I think, if my memory does not fail me, I read that in an editorial (probably by Akiva Eldar) around 2002.
    I was wrong when I wrote “2000”; it was a typo.
    Unfortunately, I could not finf a URL to that piece.

  21. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    The source for my view, actually, is a military one — Bard O’ Neill. Bard O’ Neill, who I believe has taught at the War College — wrote a book in the mid 1990’s with Ilana Kass titled the Deadly Embrace. The book (dedicated to Rabin) examined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The scholarship is unsurpassed. In the book, the authors pointed out that the one time that Israel did engage it in tactics which were closer to COIN (offering civil services to Palestinians is my main point) violence ultimately decreased.
    The cycle of the Deadly Embrace (rejectionist policies) in the post 9.11 world has simply gone regional, if not global. All the historical forces that O’Neill examined in minute detail are still present, simply writ large. And, if I remember correctly, O’Neill warned that end point was one where weapons of mass destruction will be employed.
    If you can show me any book of greater scholarship than that of Bard O’Neill and Kass, then please let me know and I’ll check it out.
    But common sense would seem to suggest that if Israeli doctors, for example, had been treating Palestinian children over the past 15-20 years, then odds would increase that Palestinian mothers at some point would start to pass info to the Israelis. It was this technique that saved John Paul Vann in VN, at least on one occasion, where VN peasants passed along info to him about a pending ambush.
    Odds would suggest that if the Israelis had built schools and hospitals in the occupied territory over the past 40 years instead of settler communities, that Hamas would be much more likely to engage in Col. Lang’s concept of Hudna.
    The rejection of this aspect of COIN seems to indicate to me that the strategic objective of the IDF is one of ethnic cleansing, as I know of no source that indicates that the strategic objective of COIN is the eradication of a people and their culture. And more and more historians(Pappe, et al) are writing books that are consistent with this theme, e.g. that Jabotinsky’s version of Zionism was never one of a two state solution but simply ethnic cleansing.
    So why won’t the IDF and GOI offer civil services to the Palestinians? Why won’t the IDF try to out Hamas, Hamas, to borrow a phrase from the VN war where the goal was to out g, the guerilla? It looks like Jabotinsky determined the zeitgeist of Zionism, not Buber or Magnes. As a result, more and more people are seeing the creation of an apartheid state. Olmert even agreed to such recently, saying in essence, that Israel will collapse if the apartheid state continues.
    And when observing the situation first hand, it looks very much like racism is ruling the day. Some of the practices I saw were ones of an apartheid state. In addition, the tactics, particularly the humiliation perpetrated on the Palestinians, was very reminiscent of the antics of the KKK.
    If indeed the strategic objective is ethnic cleansing, then more and more people in the world, including those in the Am. Jewish community (Philip Weiss, et al.) are going to question Israeli practices. As a result, Israel will no longer remain what Sun Tzu called a “sovereign imbued with the moral law”. Gone are the heady days of Leon Uris.
    Relying on Martin Van Creveld’s work, I see the best hope for Israel as a return to the 67 borders, coupled with the Col. Lang’s idea of a Hudna. The only other alternative is a binational approach — as suggested by Buber’s cultural Zionism where he recognized the dignity of the Palestinian people and their culture. The latter approach seems unlikely.
    If the US is going to support the present strategic objective of ethnic cleansing, then the USG is obligated to say so to the American people. The American people need to decide if that is what they want to support. If they do, then they must recognize the very real consequences, sometimes referred to as blowback. If not, then the USG should apply very real pressure on the Israelis to conform.
    Perhaps a good place to start good faith negotiations is for the GOI to recognize into perpetuity Muslim sovereignty over the Dome of the Rock. If the GOI does not recognize such, then it would seem to suggest that it has other intentions.
    Training with the IDF, in my opinion, should be suspended until the American people endorse ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the IDF — and they understand the consequences — or, alternatively, until the GOI agrees to the 67 border hudna approach or a binational state. Also, it would help if the controversy surrounding the USS Liberty was finally cleared up, one way or the other. I say that out of respect to the crew of the USS Liberty and their families.
    So my belief remains unchanged. The American public deserves to know the tactics and stategic objective of the IDF. Instead of an American in Paris, we need an American in Jerusalem, so to speak. And such an American must explain what is going on to the Am. public. Neither Congress,the executive branch, nor the msm will do so. The only hope I see is for someone in the spirit of Bernard Fall to write about the “Future of the Revolutionary Warfare”, circa 2008.

  22. jdledell says:

    “Hamas has no agenda for a permanent solution with Israel other than the extinction of the Jewish state. Hudna is the best the Israelis can get. pl”
    Col. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Hamas has stated that Abbas can negotiate with Israel and if a Peace Agreement is approved in a Palestinian plebiscite, Hamas will honor it.

  23. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Citation? pl

  24. Matthew says:

    Col: IMHO, Annapolis failed miserably because like all Bush foreign policy positions, it assumed that “we” (you know the USA and Israel) were working in good faith on a just solution. Reasonable peopple can quibble over whether America was acting in good faith; I know the Zionists were not. They were, in your phrase, just “negotiating the terms of surrender.”
    Serious Question: What kind of Palestinian state did Bush envision? A real country, or a Bosnia?

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