I'm ready to concede it. The Bush administration has gotten itself mired in a bad situation in the Middle East from which it's going to be very difficult to exit gracefully. And upon which it's already expended horrendous amounts of capital -- political, human and monetary. Bush jumped right in with both feet and without properly assessing the complexity, the sensitivity or the likelihood of failure. But failure is what's in the cards. Embarrassing failure.
No, of course I'm not talking about Iraq. Puleeeeze! I'm talking about the misguided capitulation to those who whined and nagged and threatened and cajoled that it was way past time for this administration to become "engaged" in the Arab-Israeli "peace process." Like his predecessor before him, Bush fell into the trap. And, like that same predecessor, he staked a lot on his ability to pull it off.
Surprise. The game was rigged.
Seven years after the handshake on the White House lawn, Arafat pulled the rug out from under Bill Clinton's quest for immortality. But Clinton was an easy catch. Dubya, having witnessed the fall of forty-two, seemed determined to avoid suffering the same fate. Alas, he succumbed.
So what to do with those flowery speeches embracing Abu Mazen and Muhammed Dahlan and the wonderful potential of the now-defunct "new Palestinian leadership?" How to respond when every condition and ultimatum of the world's most powerful government is blithely ignored, spat upon or gleefully crushed underfoot? What to say to the bird that's being so ostentatiously flipped in our direction? How does this administration "disengage" from the "peace process" before it gets any more egg on its face? Will it even try? Or will it just keep bending over and asking for more?
Those who are having trouble finding a real quagmire in Iraq don't have far to look. Gaze west (or west-southwest), just a hop, skip and a jump away.
Update: U.S. seen lessening involvement in Middle East ahead of presidential elections