I doubt it. The White House is still in control of the neoisolationist, good-vs.-evil Cold Warriors, despite some apparent resurgence in the status and influence of the realist Colin Powell. But there are things that make me wonder if there is any hope that they can be adequately forced to confront the world as it is in time to do any good.
This Michael Duffy article purportedly describes the “inside story” of how Bush is muddling toward reality instead of his former, shallow “screw the world, we’re Americans, dammit” approach. Gotta give him credit for being able to learn something when it’s forced on him, I suppose.
But this part gave me pause: "Many Democrats and Republicans believe that Bush checked out of the story early in his presidency in part because he came to Washington with a reflexive desire to do the opposite of whatever his predecessor did. It is true that Bill Clinton had his hands deep in the Middle East mess from his first year in office until the final days of his presidency in a way that the Bush team found inappropriate and even dangerous, given that a taste for high-stakes summitry, in its view, led to dashed hopes and renewed violence. “It wasn’t all that long ago where a summit was called and nothing happened,” Bush told a television interviewer Friday in a not-so-veiled criticism of Clinton, “and as a result we had significant intifadeh in the area.”
Do the people making the decisions in the White House really think that violence is the fault, not of those who commit it, but of those who try to prevent it? Isn’t the intifadeh the responsibility of Arafat, and the leaders of the smaller Palestinian factions, who had the best real-world deal they could ever hope to see right there on the table in Camp David in 2000, and turned it down just to keep their own personal power? Didn’t that put Sharon in power instead of Barak as a result, and make any new negotiation impossible until both he and Arafat are gone? Didn’t the clear lack of interest by the new administration in applying any sort of restraints or coercions to either side look like a green light to them?
Nope, everything that’s ever been wrong in the world is Clinton’s fault, and always will be, apparently. This group won’t be able to deal realistically and effectively with others’ hatreds until they master their own, will they?
Anybody want to try a reasoned explanation for how the previous administration’s efforts to end the fight actually made it worse, and the current one’s (heretofore) lack of interest did not?