Tuesday, April 22, 2008

He Said, She Said and She Said

Secretary of State Rice today said the Bush Administration explicitly warned ex-President Carter not to talk to Hamas leaders. Rice did not say who in the administration warned Carter, but was apparently not referring to herself. Rice did not take exception to Carter's remark that he had spoken to her before he left for Damascus and she had not warned him about speaking to Hamas.

Rice, who has been meeting with Arab leaders in the Gulf region, implied that Carter had damaged United States's credibility in the Middle East. It caused some Arab diplomats to wonder whether the US was still committed to shunning Hamas and might instead be making back door preparations for a shift in policy.

Meanwhile Hillary Clinton joined the war of words between Israel and Iran. On the morning of the crucial Pennsylvania primary, seeking to enhance her image of toughness and perhaps her share of Jewish voters, she stated that were she president and Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, the United States would obliterate Iran. Her statement seemingly contradicts earlier ones that it is unwise to publicly discuss US responses in hypothetical scenarios dealing with Iran.

The shrill, escalating rhetoric about who will obliterate whom fits the stereotype of Bedouin battles. Members of the warring clans line up on their camels at opposite sides of an open space and hurl insults at one another for several days.
This will either arouse enmity to such an extent that each side will heedlessly charge the other or it might exhaust them, so they drift away from the would-be battleground.

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