“America’s Diplomatic Fig Leaf”

29 09 2007

I’m becoming very fond of this columnist at Asharq Alawsat, Amir Taheri. His latest column, “America’s Diplomatic Fig Leaf,” is about Condoleezza Rice’s push for the upcoming Middle East Peace Conference in November. He says when political leaders don’t know what to do, they hold international conferences, which become figurative fig leaves to cover their political nakedness – and often subvert the causes for which the conferences are held.

Anybody who has bought a carpet in a Persian bazaar would know that the larger the number of participants in a haggling session the less the chances of a deal being made.

The history of the Middle East conflict illustrates the point.

After the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, the Palestinians who were most directly affected by the conflict were inclined to accept their status as losers in exchange for a space in which they could build their nationhood. The Arab states, however, would have none of that. They could afford to appear heroic at the expense of the Palestinians. Overtime, the cause of Palestine became an ideological toy and a political subterfuge for all sorts of people. The overexposure of the issue on the international scene made its resolution that much more difficult, especially during the Cold War when both blocs used the Middle East as a battleground for proxy wars.

“War is one of the most intimate of human relationships, something similar to love,” says Taheri. “It brings two sides together in extreme proximity, excluding all others.”

Later I want to talk about how many people have been screwed over by the tug-of-war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the Middle East and its oil.