Eloquent Image: There’s nothing on the table
I posted this piece last week on TomDispatch:
President Bush’s announcement of a new Middle East summit is being dutifully reported as a move to “revive” the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, designed to culminate in a two-state solution. But the meeting, if it ever comes about, will be nothing of the sort. U.S. officials have already made clear that the gathering’s purpose will be “to review progress toward building Palestinian institutions, look for ways to support further reforms and support the effort going on right now between the parties together.”
Mushy? Of course it’s mushy. The Bush speech simply restated the key term of the administration’s long dead “roadmap” — before there can be peace talks, the Palestinians will be required to destroy Hamas. In other words, there will be no peace talks, just a lot of wishful thinking. As White House Press Secretary Tony Snow put it, “I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It’s not.”
The Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about the emperor’s new clothes might accurately describe current U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — except for one important detail. In the fairytale, the emperor’s courtiers are careful never to let on that they can see their monarch’s nakedness; in the case of U.S. Middle East policy, there is what playwright Bertolt Brecht might have called an epic gap between some of the actors and their lines. Plainly, very few of them believe the things that the script requires them to say.
In this absurdist take on the old fairytale, whenever anyone points out that the emperor has no clothes, they are simply told “duh!” before the players get back acting as if it’s fashion week in the palace.