Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Return of the "Who Knew?" Administration!

From the same people who brought you "no one could have imagined" hijackers using commercial aircraft as weapons (except that FBI agent in Phoenix, the folks who prepared the August 6, 2001 President's Daily Brief and perhaps the Wachowski brothers) and "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" (except the Homeland Security officials who alerted both the White House and FEMA of their prediction of massive levee failure before Katrina made landfall), we bring you:

Condi Rice on January 29, after Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinain Authority's parliament:

"[N]obody saw it coming .... I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard by Hamas's strong showing."

Nobody other than, say, Middle East expert Shibley Telhami, who announced on NPR's January 25 Morning Edition that the bottom line is, "Hamas wins." Or, if that doesn't sufice, how about the editors of The Economist, who wrote in their leader for the January 28 print edition (clearly written before the announcement of even the preliminary results of the election): "Following this week's election, Hamas will for the first time have members in the Palestinian parliament, and perhaps even control it." Indeed, so confident were the editors of The Economist that they put this leader into print, knowing it would come out after the election results came out, and slapped spooky images of be-masked militants on the cover along with the bold legend, "Enter Hamas". (The preliminary results first appeared in the evening of January 26, GMT, and hit the late edition of East-Coast papers here in the States.) And apparently, Rice was not talking to the Israelis who, according to a January 23 piece in Haaretz, were "preparing for the possibility that Hamas will participate in a Fatah-led government or even win the elections itself." (The Israelis, by the way, met with "American envoys," presumably from Rice's State Department, around January 13. The "American envoys" were sufficiently concerned about a strong Hamas showing that they promised that the U.S. would not recognize any Palestinian government in which Hamas participates. Perhaps Condi does not "know" the diplomats that State dispatched to Israel in the run-up to the election.) Surely, it was enough of a possibility that the State Department would have been actively mooting the scenario in order to determine what the best course of action would be in that event. Right? Please tell me they at least thought about it while in the shower! It wasn't too strenuous an exercise for the editors of The Economist, who laid out a very sensible plan, one that actually involves "a destination" -- and not just a fatuous, contentless "road map." And it need not tax the brains of the current administration to come up with one, as the Clinton administration already did the work: "a Palestinian state in Gaza plus 95% or so of the West Bank; a shared capital in Jerusalem; Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount; Israeli sovereignty over the western wall; and a right for Palestinian refugees to return to the West Bank and Gaza but not to pre-1967 Israel." As The Economist observes, all Bush need do is call it his own plan and get "the quartet" to throw all its weight behind it.