It looks like it's time for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to start catching up to President George W. Bush when it comes to Chutzpah of the Week awards. By my records Condi has been stuck at two since last June, while Bush is now way ahead of her with seven. However, the Middle East has always been fertile ground for chutzpah (and not just in the Mesopotamian crescent). So let us consider Anne Gearan's report for the Associated Press on how Rice has been handling the current breakdown in relations between Israel and the Palestinians:
The U.S.-backed Palestinian president rebuffed the Bush administration's request Tuesday to quickly end a walkout of peace talks with Israel, saying Israeli military bombardment of civilians in the Gaza Strip is unacceptable under any circumstance.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said negotiations are the only solution, and defended Israel's right to seek out militants who use the tiny Hamas-held territory as a launching pad for increasing numbers of rockets targeting civilians in southern Israel.
"I understand the difficulties of the current moment," Rice said following meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "We all must keep an eye on what is important."
Regular Rice followers know about her talent for assertion-by-imperative; but this particular imperative has a significant ring of chutzpah to it, because, by implication, it dismisses the fatal consequences of the latest round of Israeli aggression against Gaza as being not "important." Put another way, she has laid all of the blame for the breakdown in peace talks on Abbas, who decided that he could not meet with Israel while those attacks continued. Thus, if the United States went into this latest effort to negotiate a peace with even a shred of the reputation of a fair broker, Rice has pretty much blown away that last shred. This is ultimately the worst of that old "New World Order" thinking, based on the premise that the total authority of the United States was all that would be required to solve all the world's problems. With all sorts of evidence to refute that premise and demonstrate that just the opposite has occurred, Rice clings to her ideology with the defiance of a captain going down with a sinking ship: chutzpah of the highest order worthy of this week's award!