Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Any Point of Agreement is Better than None at All

Many of the Arab leaders invited to the Annapolis conference voice a common reaction, which was that they did not want to be part of a hollow ceremony. The fact that they got a hollow ceremony, however, may not be that catastrophic, simply because the United States had little credibility left to lose in their eyes. More interesting, however, is the unity of understanding shared by both Israeli and Arab newspapers in their disappointment with the results of the meeting (as reported today by Ulrike Putz at SPIEGEL ONLINE). This opens the door to a "modest proposal" that would probably not go down well with the power elite but might still be worth a try. Perhaps we should recall the wisdom of Georges Clemenceau ("La guerre! C’est une chose trop grave pour la confier à des militaires.") and recognize that peace in the Middle East is too serious to be entrusted to political leaders. As an alternative, one might propose a conversation among reporters and columnists, who, in the spirit of Mr. Dooley, are in the best position to represent all those voiceless people stuck with living in the mess that the political leaders have created. The level of discourse may not necessarily always exhibit the civility of diplomatic ceremony, but it would not be hard for the conversation to achieve a far higher level of substance! If there is actually a point of agreement out there, we should be encouraging it as a point of departure, rather than deluding ourselves about any promises that were delivered "according to script" at the conclusion of the Annapolis event.

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