The Middle East Bulletin, put out by Middle East Progress at the Center for American Progress, has done a nice job of exposing how White House spokesman Tony Snow's message of a new International conference to advance the two-state solution changed from one day to the next. Here is the 'Setting the Record Straight' section from today's MEB
“He’ll propose a larger diplomatic efforts [sic] and international conference.”
– Tony Snow, White House spokesman, press briefing, July 16, 2007, previewing the speech on the Middle East that President Bush delivered later the same day
“I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It’s not.”
– Tony Snow, White House spokesman, press briefing, July 17, 2007, discussing the conference announced in the President’s speech.
(You can subscribe to the MEB here.)
In fact, in his press conference yesterday, Mr. Snow went on to say:
... even though I know I used the term "conference" this morning, this is a meeting... I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It's not. This is a meeting to sit down and try to find ways of building fundamental and critical institutions for the Palestinians that are going to enable them to have self-government and democracy.
Well that does sound encouraging, serious diplomacy, here we come! It's not only the presentation that's ridiculous. The substance is also deeply flawed as I have argued elsewhere.
Later in the same press conference, Tony Snow describes how the US has turned a corner in certain parts of Iraq -- he names Anbar and Diyala -- as a "significant reversal for al Qaeda."
To the extent to which that's true, it has happened as a result of US commanders on the ground taking a more nuanced and inclusive approach in determining which Iraqis they will work with and build alliances with in pushing back al Qaeda. This is exactly the opposite to the approach the Administration is taking in the Palestinian territories where division is being encouraged and exacerbated in ways that are very likely to work to the advantage of al Qaeda copycats.
Of course, we all now know that there was no al Qaeda in Iraq before the US invasion and that the chaos that followed in its wake, created conditions in Iraq in which al Qaeda could flourish and establish a major base for operations.
In comparing Iraq to Palestine in his latest speech, President Bush may be advancing a self-fulfilling prophecy -- there is no noteable al Qaeda-type presence yet in the Palestinian territories, but US policy may help create one. Heckuva job, Georgie.