13 March 2007

Lame ducks and sitting ducks

"Last November 26, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the IDF to withdraw its forces from Gaza. Sounding oddly triumphant, Olmert announced that he had reached a cease-fire with the Palestinians. The strangeness of his statement became apparent when just hours later Sderot absorbed yet another bombardment of rockets from Gaza.

And as the IDF grudgingly withdrew its forces mid-mission, the Palestinians established the rules that they and Olmert have followed ever since. They attack Israel and prepare for war, and Israel helps them by giving them money, negotiating with them and taking no steps to defend itself or its citizens.

PERHAPS what is most interesting about the diplomatic maneuvering taking place today is that all four main actors carrying it out are advancing aims inimical to their national or organizational interests. Israel and the US's security interests, like those of Jordan, are harmed rather than advanced by the empowerment of Hamas. As for Abbas, Fatah's fiduciary interests are harmed by the transfer of power to Hamas.

So why are these men behaving as they are?

The answer to that apparently is to be found in a characteristic shared by Bush, Olmert, Abdullah and Abbas. All of them lead without the support of their people. All of the men, in engaging in near-manic diplomatic wrangling, are advancing the aims of neither peace nor security. They act as they do not because they believe in what they are doing - indeed, none of them could possibly believe in what he is doing. Rather, they are doing this because they want us to ignore the fact that in Bush's and Olmert's cases they are lame ducks, and in Abdullah's and Abbas's cases, they are sitting ducks."

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