Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Gorby Moment

Timothy Garton Ash has a typically great piece about Rice's first trip abroad as SOS and the coincidental ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians. Corner types were falling in love with Condi and proclaiming that she had single-handedly solved the Middle East crisis (tongue perhaps slightly in cheek, but only slightly I think). Ash isn't the first to note that she has benefited from some great timing and received credit where it was most likely not due. The Gorbachev analogy is great:

What's more, she's been lucky. Her conciliatory speech in Paris earlier this week coincided with the handshake of peace between Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas. That was a gift only in small measure of Washington's own making. The president whom Dr Rice serves so faithfully, George Bush, has long been inspired by the example of Ronald Reagan. Like Reagan, he wants his first term, in which he was demonised as a warmonger by many Europeans, to be followed by a second term in which he writes himself into the history books as both peacemaker and freedom spreader. (Into some history books, depending whose you read.) But Reagan could do this because the US's main geopolitical challenger produced a leader called Mikhail Gorbachev. Until recently, it was hard to see where Bush's Gorbachev moment would come from. Now there is a chance that Bush's Gorbachev will be called Mahmoud Abbas.

Arafat's death is, quite simply, a blessing. Abbas is as moderate as we can hope for at the moment, and Sharon is stubborn enough that we wouldn't have been at this stage right now if not for Arafat's demise. So do the Cornerites heap praise on Abbas? From what I've seen, the right-wing blogosphere prefers to pick him apart for his past unsavory comments about the Holocaust, which indeed were repugnant but which should not obscure the hope that lies with his ascension.

Have to run right now, but will have some more comments about Condi's trip real soon.

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