Monday, November 26, 2007

The Closer Your Destination: Slip-Sliding From The Original Annapolis

Noah Pollak writes about the Annapolis summit--then and now:

It’s worth recalling a few details of Annapolis’s origins in order that they may shed some light on what is happening, and not happening, this week. On July 16th, a few weeks after Hamas took Gaza by force, President Bush delivered a speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that announced the administration’s intention to hold a peace conference. He said:

The world can do more to build the conditions for peace. So I will call together an international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties.

When the list of Annapolis invitees was released last week, it became clear—to nobody’s surprise—that not one of those four requirements had been enforced.
In the end, Bush will have to make do with what he has, and with what he can scrape together. Needless to say, that isn't much. In the end, Bush has had to put together a crazy quilt of odd attendees; not necessarily the kind of countries you would expect. The New York Sun comments that
looming above all at Annapolis this week will be the Saudi royal family and its representative, "Prince" Saud al-Faisal, whose cousins, uncles, and many relatives are now under investigation in America and the European Union for accepting tens of billions of dollars in bribes over the past three decades under the guise of military contracts to buy toys from the West.

...Sitting at Annapolis too will be the delegates of the so-called Palestinian Authority. There is Mahmoud Abbas, whose powers stop at the threshold of his villa in Ramallah. He will not be speaking for a kaleidoscopic Palestinian Arab world of Hamas jihadists, leftist gangs, and plain mafiosos who are the remainder of his constituency. Neither will he represent other Palestinian Arabs in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, who answer to Damascus and Tehran.

...[I]t remains unclear how the same Saudis, who last week were busy condemning a rape victim to 200 lashes, can contribute to anything called a "civilized" Middle East. Nor how President Assad's killing machine, which for two years has been picking off pro-Western politicians in neighboring Lebanon, will push peace negotiations.
Pollak sees in the assembled countries an indication that, "the administration has simply discarded the original raison d’etre of the conference in favor of something else, a farrago of previous commitments and strategies."

I think of it more as an invitation to a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for politicians.

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