Rick, it’s not a good sign when the State Department adopts environmentalist jargon to address military conflicts. And today Condoleezza Rice virtually repeated the 2006 comments to which you referred. After meeting with the President, she told reporters, “It is obvious that that cease-fire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a cease-fire that is durable and sustainable.”
The one she’s talking about now seems recycled to me. The cease-fire ploy comes up every time Israel displays the audacity to fight the terrorists ranged along its borders. The problem is that aspiring peacemakers are stretching diplomatic language beyond its limits. Cease-fires are not durable and sustainable; treaties are. Cease-fires are stopgap measures. It’s not hard to see the same mixture of grandiosity and silliness in the Secretary of State’s plan to secure Israel through the use of a diplomatic band-aid that we see in Al Gore’s plan to save the future of mankind through the use of “eco-friendly” light bulbs. There is a way of talking about solutions to a problem that keeps you from having to find solutions to that problem. As you pointed out, a hasty cease-fire would be bad for Israel. But it would be great for Condoleezza Rice.
There’s a beautiful bit of hypocrisy in this AP story. Underneath the headline reading, “Rice vows hard work on arranging Gaza cease-fire,” we read:
Questioned by a reporter, Rice said she had no plans to visit the Middle East to broker peace in the waning days of the Bush administration.
“It’s just as easy for her to keep on working the phones from here in Washington rather than being in the region right now,” [White House spokesman Gordon] Johndroe said later.
We can forget about looking to Washington for answers over the next few weeks. The administration is currently engaged in a durable and sustainable vacation.