Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Bush in Israel. Historic or hum-dum?
In the aftermath of November's Annapolis summit, this week, U.S. Prez "Dubya" finally set foot into the Holy Land. It took him seven years in office to get to this point. Strange, considering how close America and Israel are allied in the great war on terrorism.
For those inclined to walk on the sunny side of the street, his arrival in the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian dignitaries could herald a year where peace actually comes to the Middle East, as per the stated plan at Annapolis.
But, as Mike Meyers once so poignantly said in that great piece of early 90's cinema, Wayne's World, "Yeah. And monkeys might fly out of my butt." In my opinion, of course.
Why the pessimism? How does 19 rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza within hours of Bush's arrival sound? You can bet there will be more.
As ever, Palestinian extremists are not going to let any peace process move forward without significant disturbances which will force Israel to take armed action, prompting more retaliation and, oh... you get the cyclical nature of it all. Add in the fact that Bush is in his final year as President with full-on campaigning going on back home to determine his successor, and it gives the U.S. limited wiggle room in the short term to see this process through to completion with any muscle in 2008.
Also in the Middle East this week for the first time is Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, Maxime Bernier. He'll be talking it up with Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, delivering Canada's two cents (now on par with the US penny!) on how the peace process should move forward.
Will it all come to naught? Really, who knows? Today I'm feeling pessimistic about it as I think about the poor families in Sderot and elsewhere in Israel, who have to literally live with the fallout of all this peace rhetoric.
I guess on the plus side, this is creating a lot of work opportunities for journalists and photo-journalists.