I once read that Condoleeze Rice made a career of being wrong to all the right people. That's a bit paraphrastic, but there was a ring of aphorism to the original as well. To be fair, there were many decades in this country where many a respectable politico-academic career was made through a concerted effort at overestimating the strength, durability, and danger of the Soviet Union. Condi was never even an exemplar of such. So far as I can tell, she mouthed Sovietology of the most mainstream sort--wrong, but not spectacularly so--and did so as a pretty, compliant black woman: precisely the sort of useful racial prop popular with both American political parties. Much has been made in both the mainstream press and the quasi-oppositional Democratic blog-media about Rice's (in)famous loyalty to the dauphin, but I defy anyone to say they can't imagine her performing precisely the same role of globe-trotting ring-kisser under a Bill Clinton or, hell, under an Al Gore. She seems to possess no political ideology of her own, and it seems fatuous in the extreme to believe that she would be any less capable of mouthing obsequiences in line with the nominal Democratic "policy" positions than those current. Of course, in the Israelo-Palestinian-Lebanese trifecta, all this is more or less irrelevant, since the United States government speaks, in the much-repeated and little-signifying phrase, "with one voice." And that is the voice of Israel.
In comments to my last post, commentor Moloch_Agonistes offers a critique:
Disagree. There are many things the U.S. could do to calm the various conflicts in which Israel is engaged. Most of them involve pulling one plug or another. I mean, honestly: do you really think there wouldn't be a permanent border on the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon in zero seconds flat if the principal patron insisted? That we haven't done it so far suggests that soi-disant "policy elites" don't see it as U.S. interest to calm these conflicts.True, as they say, in theory, although I think it overestimates the capacity of Israel's enemies to make peace or accept a drawn border; the US could certainly force Israel to withdraw to whatever borders it saw fit, but that is no guarantee of a permanent boder. But one need only listen to Hillary Clinton snarling into the microphone at the latest pro-Israel rally to see that itjustain'tgonnahappen.
M_A calls that sort of thinking quiescent, and perhaps it is. I don't deny despairing over the most recent debacle. Still, I think we must recognize that the "defense" of Israel has metastasized into a total organizational imperative for the United States governing classes. So imperative, so internalized that our own emissaries sit dumbly by as the carnage continues, at great cost to our ongoing project in the region. Not a month ago, it was hard to imagine our cause or reputation could sink much lower in Iraq or our influence wane more in Iran, and yet here we are, standing by while Israel bombs the hell out of Lebanon. As I once wrote: If you don't wish to be called a crusader Zionist state, it's best not to act like one. It's naive to believe that our government is unaware of the terrible position our fifty-first state has forced on us: all across the Middle East, all across the world, the American-made and -funded Israeli military is televised wreaking havoc across Lebanon and Gaza. No matter what excuses belch from the White House, no matter what strutting nonsense the president sputters about letting Israel soften up Hezbollah, or whatever the hell, the scent of panic is in the air.
One part panic, one part paralysis. "It is time for a new Middle East," she said. "It is time to say to those that don't want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail. They will not." That's a press-conference slogan usually delivered by the likes of a Tony Snow to the truly quiescent Washington press corps. Even at a meet-and-greet staged for media, it's not the sort of thing the Secretary of State is supposed to say while standing next to a supposedly junior partner in the middle of a war. Watching these buffoons is remeniscent of nothing so much as one of those old Isaac Asimov robot stories, wherein the imperative of this or that "Law of Robotics" comes into insoluble conflict with another, and the damned machine goes crazy, or else just shuts down. The solution, insofar as one exists, is not to try to convince the malfunctioning creature that one or other law or order is more important; that only drives it more haywire. The solution is to give it some other option: a way out. As regards our so-called foreign policy(ies) , I just can't see any reconciliation of our schizophrenic, always-at-odds-with-themselves attitudes and our self-imposed obligations. This is why I believe in advocacy for withdrawal as much as possible. It will be bitter and imperfect. It will leave a great deal of carnage and bloodshed in its wake. It will harm the standing of the United States, if you're into that sort of thing. It will diminish us as a global power--thankfully, in my view. It is the only way out, and, though I can't be optimistic, I will say this much: It won't damn anyone we haven't already damned.