(image via israelmatzav)
Foreign Policy alerts us to this Time Blog piece by Tim McGirk on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's unheralded trip to the Middle East. It is the stuff of Tragedy. The same thumoeideutic zeal that gets one to the lofty positions of President and Secretary of State is the same overwrought passion that leads said officials to overestimate their ability to solve the problems of the Middle East. How many Presidents and Secretaries of State thought that their own brand of muscular diplomacy would succeed where dozens of Administrations have failed only to find themselves, Tragedy of Tragedies, remaindered to the dustbin of History? From Time:
"I feel sorry for Condoleezza Rice. That’s a sad thing to have to say about the secretary of state for a superpower, but let’s face the facts: she’s made 22 trips to Israel during the Bush Administration’s eight years, and she has little to show for it. Israeli TV announcers coined her name as a verb, meaning to go endlessly around in circles, accomplishing nothing.
"On Sunday, Rice just passed through Jerusalem again. Ghosted through might be a better description since this time there was no fanfare, no motorcades snarling up the city’s traffic, and the lady couldn’t even book a room in her usual hotel, the David Citadel. She had to settle for a less grand hotel, though admittedly it wasn’t one of those pilgrim fleapits in the Old City. But for me, that’s a sign of how far how far her superpower status has fallen in the dwindling days of Bushdom.
"It’s not for lack of trying. Rice took a stab at it --late, it must be said. But her boss was perennially distracted, the Israelis didn’t want to make compromises and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, anointed by the White House, as a moderate 'we can deal with,' proved woefully ineffectual.
"She started this 24 hour visit with a peevish complaint: The Jerusalem municipality was going ahead and building more houses in East Jerusalem, on the Arab side, a move that the Palestinians and the international community says is illegal. Her harsh criticism didn’t exactly make Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tremble.
"On the contrary; Olmert told Rice, frostily, that her statements made it harder, if not impossible, for him to secure support for any concessions to the Palestinians from the Israeli religious nationalist propping up his coalition."
Nothing is more awkward to the potentates of the Middle East than a lame duck administration and its courtiers unable to recognize their own irrelevance. Full story here.