Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain: No Mideast Peacemaker

It is instructive to recall that during the 2000 campaign of President George W. Bush, the major Middle East focus of the campaign was Iraq. The Republicans derided Bill Clinton for devoting a significant chunk of his last months in office to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, and vowed not to make the same mistake.
The McCain campaign, while endorsing a two-state solution, puts much of the onus for progress on the Palestinians and evinces little interest in expending any effort to bridge Israeli-Palestinian differences. Instead, when it comes to the Middle East, McCain's campaign is fixated on Iran and the threat that its nuclear program may pose.
One may anticipate that resurgent hawks and neo-cons will, if McCain is elected, argue that by attacking Iran the U.S. will make the Palestinians fall into line and dance to America's tune. Recall similar arguments in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Meantime, Obama and company are likely to stay arm's length from Arab-Israeli issues, so as not to spook pro-Israeli voters, and there is no reason to expect an Obama administration to expend a big chunk of its political capital in Middle East peacemaking.
Thus, since anemic Bush-Rice peacemaking is unlikely to produce any welcome surprises in the last months of the cannot-end-too-soon presidency, and since neither candidate is likely to devote much attention to the effort once elected, the Palestinians' plight is likely to only get worse. As it does, the new administration, whether red or blue, will find it very hard to avoid at least going through the motions of seeking a settlement. That you can bet on.

Party Convention Highlights GOP Skepticism About Mideast Peace -"

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