Tuesday, March 18, 2003

How we got here

Speaking of Rachel Corrie ...

It is now clear that once-promising chances for peace in the Middle East are evaporating like so much naphtha fuel, thanks in no small part to the utter failure of the Bush administration to make any kind of contribution to improve matters. Indeed, Colin Powell's mission last year demonstrated with utter clarity the complete impotence of the Americans to make any kind of positive difference because of Bush's calamitous policies. And now the few Americans who are trying to fill that vacuum are being killed.

Many of us recall how painfully close Bill Clinton came to eking out a workable Middle East peace agreement. But his efforts fell short -- in no small part, as it happens, because of interference from the very same faction now in power.

Here's a blast from the past, in case anyone needed to remember how we got here:

Richard Perle sabotages peace talks
Richard Perle, a veteran cold war warrior and former assistant secretary of state, urged the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, not to agree to any settlement which left the future status of Jerusalem unresolved, according to the New York Post website.

The website quoted a message received by Mr Barak yesterday from two of his emissaries, Yoram Ben-Ze'ev and Yossi Alpher. The two men said Mr Perle "asked us to send a clear message" to Mr Barak that it would be a "catastrophe" if the Jerusalem question was not dealt with, and urged him "to walk away" from the Camp David negotiations if faced with that outcome.

The Perle camp's argument was that it would be unfair to burden any incoming administration with the task of settling the Jerusalem issue or underwriting future negotiations. Of course, it seems unlikely that this was a task at which a Gore administration would have chafed.

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