THE BLOG
11/23/2007 10:18 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Harnessing Doubt & Need: Rice Could Pull Off Something Big in Annapolis

Condoleezza Rice clemons.JPG

Next Tuesday, a gaggle of nations will meet for one day in the Maryland City of Annapolis to discuss what it will take to generate a comprehensive solution to the Israel-Palestine standoff.

The Baltimore Sun caught my comment that in 1786 the Annapolis Convention was a mess. The various states of the Confederated States of America were trying to hammer out trade arrangements, and they were getting nowhere. Alexander Hamilton's own colleagues from New York abandoned him at the Convention leaving New York without a vote -- and yet amidst the low expectations and the overall bungling of the conference -- James Madison and Hamilton convinced delegates to exceed their authority and call for a federal convention the following year in Philadelphia. That meeting birthed the Constitution and the establishment of the United States.

I doubt that the Palestine-Israel summit, which shares so many characteristics of the 1786 Convention, can achieve a point of definitive and comprehensive success next week. However, Secretary Rice and President Bush seem ready to gamble what is left of their prestige on this venture.

Failure will hurt the US as well as the other parties involved as it will confirm in the minds of many around the world that America is no longer a superpower in the way it once was. If it fails in this, it will telegraph to many that we cannot achieve the objectives we set out for ourselves.

Doubt, cynicism, and low expectations about the 1786 Annapolis Convention are part of what helped generate the successful environment that it was for hatching the all important Philadelphia Federal Convention.

If Condoleezza Rice can harness doubt as well as the imperative of doing something to resolve this situation, this meeting next Tuesday could be historic.

-- Steve Clemons