Once I decided to grant the Chutzpah of the Week award to Tzipi Livni for handling the current crisis in Gaza with "diplomacy by denial," I figured it would only be a matter of time before multiple-award-winner Condoleeza Rice would attempt to challenge my decision. After meeting with her boss (the über multiple-award winner) she issued a statement that included one zinger that certainly deserves attention but is not enough to snatch the prize away from Livni. That statement was pulled from the wire services by Al Jazeera English in their latest report on the Gaza situation:
We are talking constantly with the Israeli government to find a solution to Gaza that will be a sustainable one for the people of Gaza, for the people of Israel, and for the people of the Palestinian territories of the Middle East more broadly.
One does not have to be the sharpest of readers to recognize that party that is missing from Rice's list of those with whom the United States is "talking constantly." That party is, of course, any representative of the legitimately elected Hamas government in Gaza, who can speak for one of the opposing sides in this dispute that continues to escalate. After all, any solution that is "a sustainable one for the people of Gaza" should, by all rights, recognize those whom the people of Gaza granted authority through an electoral process that we, as Americans, so value.
The problem with speculating on how much damage the Bush Administration can do before Inauguration Day is that any number of answers keeping coming out of the "voodverk" like vicious gnurrs. This particular gnurr should be familiar to all of us by now. It is that particular perversion of statecraft through which the United States sets itself as the sole "Decider" (to use Bush-speak) of which parties are allowed to sit at the table in the discussion of a crisis situation. Thus, Livni's denial that there is a crisis in the first place has now been reinforced with the proposition that those responsible for much of the recent violence should not be allowed a voice in any efforts towards restoring some level of peace. If the evidence of history (which our government has done such a good job of willfully disregarding) has taught us anything, it is that such double-barreled denial will only strengthen Hamas' resolve (just as the ancestors of those who now govern Israel strengthened the resolve of their opposition to Roman occupation).