The recent conduct of the Secretary of State is profoundly puzzling. She has evidently decided to double down and spend her final year focusing entirely on a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Whether you believe in the utter necessity of such a deal or are at best skeptical of one is immaterial; Rice has committed herself to abject failure. Her hopes are resting on an Israeli prime minister who will not survive the year, and may not survive the month, and on a Palestinian president and prime minister so weak that to get anything done Israel is now evidently negotiating separately with Hamas, the primary cause of their political weakness. There isn’t a rational person on the face of this earth who believes that a deal of any meaning can be reached with these players this year. And yet Rice is determined to go down with this ship. What’s even stranger is that she reposed hopes in Olmert once before, when she and George W. Bush backed him for a month in the Hezbollah war, only to learn that Olmert had made feckless promises about destroying Hezbollah he was in no position to keep.
Doesn’t Rice have a friend who could sit her down and gently explain that she is simply setting herself up to enter the ranks of American foreign-policy hands who will only be able to speak ruefully about their efforts to strike a peace accord between a nation that wants one and a people who don’t?