(H)er results after six stops on the ground in the Middle East did not match her lofty rhetoric. --WAPO. (1/19/07)
"To what extent is Rice just another siren, mesmerizing the Middle East with pleasing songs...? -- Arab News, via WAPO (1/19/07)
The Secretary of State just returned from another Middle Eastern swing, first crisscrossing the region, then following the PR road map through Europe to consult with leaders there.
Unfortunately however, having once again met with everybody who's anybody, the striking Ms. Rice got nothing out of it. And, I'm not saying no results came out of it, but as usual, no logic came out of it. Why "as usual?" Because, when it comes to Ms. Rice, there is no operative or working strategy, no sign of formulation in progress, nothing. Just pictures. And sound bites. And they aren't even her sound bites!
...But then, hold on a minute. Maybe I'm overlooking something -- if just a key word or two.
If, at the core of Bush foreign policy, lies a good metaphor, perhaps Condi's trip was more successful than is readily apparent. In fact, what if the real obstacle to progress in the Middle East is not a concrete set of steps to achieve "just and lasting peace," but just a more workable trope? What I'm saying is, what if "Road Map" just didn't cut it? What if it simply lacked the same oomph as, say "War on Terror" or "Mission Accomplished?"
So, before we criticize Ms. Rice for a lack of agenda, or fault her for lifting a "catch phrase for peace" from her new back-channel, Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni (as US ambassador Richard Jones' explained to the Jerusalem Post), lets consider the potential brilliance here. Remember, in the neocon world of post-9/11 politics, people don't save people, phrases do.
Just watch, I'm telling you, these people might know something yet.
In fact, Ms. Rice might be way ahead of us, having already implanted Miss Livni's her new term into the media sphere. And, as the new phrase grows in amplitude, accumulating momentum around the echo chamber, who knows? Any day now, it's possible (no, maybe even probable) that the Palestinians, the Israelis and even those old-school Europeans will wake up to discover the clouds of conflict have suddenly burned off, and it's morning in Jerusalem.
... And then, if Israeli could actually pull off an agreement with the Syrians (although the two-year-old, formerly secret talks aren't so secret anymore), then Condi could chime in, and add that to her "Horizon" too!
>> To see exclusive pages from Condi's January '07 Middle East Scrap Book, visit BAGnewsNotes.com.
(image 1: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy/Handout . January 13, 2007. Jerusalem. Via YahooNews. image 2 & 3: Ammar Awad /Reuters. January 13, 2007. Jerusalem. Via YahooNews.)