August 2008 Archives
1. "We don't say yes or no to Israeli military operations. Israel is its own sovereign. We are in close contact with Israel and we talk about the diplomatic track we're on... They've said diplomacy can work here, and I know they're doing their part to talk with all countries with which they have diplomatic relations to explain why it is important to have a tough edge to our diplomacy." Those were the words of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on August 7th, and it was reasonable to take them as a green light to those in Israel who advocate for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear installations. They came in the lingering and sour aftermath of widespread reports that the United States had effectively vetoed any unilateral Israeli action, and diverse signs that the US itself was moving to a more nuanced Iran policy. In particular, Prime Minister Olmert had written a letter of alarm to President Bush towards the end of July, a letter protesting the American rapprochement with Iran and expressing Israel's profound anxiety at the imminent existential threat of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
So the Rice statement could be seen as reassurance. If Israel was so disposed, America would not intervene to stop it.
Gershon Baskin, below, writes a depressing column that will come as no surprise to our readers. Rather than add to our gloom, I share with you as well a rather upbeat appraisal by Aluf Benn - a lengthy interview with General Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator for the Palestine Authority. It appeared in Ha'aretz on August 8.
Prime Minister Olmert's announcement that he will not compete in the Kadimah primaries on September 17th has generally been greeted on the Israeli Left with a version of "it's about time." True, the end of Olmert's political career, which began with his misbegotten and misdirected Lebanon war and has been hastened by the mounting allegations of his personal corruption, has for some time now seemed imminent. And there's inevitably a sense of relief when the other shoe finally drops.
Still, I cannot recall a time when I have more strongly felt the validity of the familiar caution - "be careful what you wish for."