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Fruitless Conversations

The Annapolis conference is set for November 4-6, and -- sad to say -- no one
yet knows who exactly will show up.  Of course, no one knows how the
sessions will end up either.  And, if truth be told, no one even knows what
will be discussed.

Poor Condi Rice has ordered up a multi-hundred page reprise of what
happened at previous important junctures in the failed history of the peace
process.  This is a silly exercise for some junior foreign service officer
to waste the next days reading.  Everybody knows the basic narrative: the
Arabs show up and are intransigent; the Israelis are squeezed; the Israelis
capitulate; the Arabs are more intransigent.  Nothing happens.  Except for
Oslo, announced at the White House.  There peace was proclaimed, and three
of the signatories -- Rabin, Peres, Arafat -- shared the Nobel Peace
Prize.  The process didn't unravel until the winners picked up their cash
at the ceremonies.    Mazal tov.

The only exception to this litany of failure was the Egyptian-Israel peace
when Menachem Begin grasped that an arms-empty Sinai -- monitored by the U.S. --
was a reasonable guarantee that Egypt might make a lot of belligerent
noise, but it won't want its divisions and air corps destroyed again.

In any case, Condi is preparing for next week's heavy conferencing.  So she
has prepared by visiting with Jimmy Carter or, rather, with Jimmy Carter
visiting with her in Foggy Bottom.  All of this is described in Ha'aretz

Even she, who is has more than residual loyalties to Brent
Scowcroft's anti-Israel view of the world, knows that Carter is a crank and
an anti-Jewish crank, at that.  She will have no truck with that.  To
Carter we may debit the decline of American foreign policy, what with him
and his high-unemployment and higher lending rates weakening the country
internally and the saga of the Tehran embassy showing how weak and afraid
we were externally.

Condi has also consulted with Mme. Albright whose only lesson from the past
-- "get Arafat not to walk out" -- is, thank God, now moot.  The man is
dead.  Hallelujah!  The secretary of state spoke on the phone with Bill
Clinton, as well.   He gave the Palestinians everything, and they still
left in a pique.  He knows the lessons, and so does Mrs. Clinton.