Both stories are about the middle east and how the Bush administration seems to believe that the things they do have no effect on other things they want to happen. In the first case, Bush is hosting a meeting with key middle eastern leaders to discuss peace in the region. This was yesterday's big FP story.
The time is right to relaunch peace talks on the Middle East, George Bush said today at the opening of the Annapolis conference of leaders from the region.
In optimistic comments prepared for delivery to diplomats from more than 40 countries gathered at the US naval academy, the US president struck a positive note about the new peace effort, something his administration had previously shied away from.
The talks are aimed at jump-starting negotiations for creating a Palestinian state, and Bush emphasised that the meeting marked the beginning of a difficult process.
Two problems with this "big story" -- one, Condoleezza Rice, who sucks, will be heading up the effort. She hasn't been able to swing a single consequential deal for the US since she took over from Colin Powell. She's a lousy diplomat and a lousy Secretary of State.
Two, the idea that Bush can succeed where every other president has failed is laughable. This is an administration that seems to value incompetence -- I point you again to Condi Rice.
In fact, even those who are wildly enthusiastic about this conference give it zero chance of success. Writing for the L.A. Times, Zev Chafets was typical:
The middle east peace conference convened by the United States in Annapolis, Md., may or may not move the Israeli-Arab conflict closer to resolution (my money is on "may not"). But, whatever happens, there is already one winner: George W. Bush.
This is Bush's bash. His name is on the invitation. The party is at his place. The guests are strictly A-list. Every country that matters, and a lot that don't, will be represented. The European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League will be there too. They are all coming for the same reason: They have been summoned by the one man in the world to whom no one wants to say no.
It turns out that Bush, far from wrecking America's prestige and influence, has compounded it. Every government in the world knows that attending the Annapolis conference under the aegis of the president of the United States is an unmistakable acknowledgment that America remains the world's indispensable state.
Yeah! Bush still matters -- just never mind that even the slavishly kiss-ass think he doesn't stand a chance in hell. You kind of think that, if Bush were really "the one man in the world to whom no one wants to say no," this big conference would end in a resounding "Yes!" I guess that compounding America's "prestige and influence" doesn't actually result in any real influence.
Given the second story, that lack of influence isn't extremely surprising.
The United States and Iraq have agreed to start formal negotiations next year about the future relationship of the two countries, including the size and role of American forces to remain there, the White House said on Monday.
President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed to a "declaration of principles" that will guide talks on reaching bilateral agreements to cover a long-term relationship between the two countries.
The principles included defending a democratic Iraq against internal and external threats; encouraging foreign investments, especially American, to contribute to reconstruction and rebuilding; and supporting Iraq joining the World Trade Organization.
In other words, Bush has committed to an informal agreement to keep US troops in Iraq until the sun burns out. It's non-binding, since a treaty to that effect would never be ratified by the Senate. But "insane" and "stupid" aren't strong enough words to describe this move. It was signed yesterday -- the same day all this news about Bush's big peace conference started really gaining steam. In fact, the Annapolis story was the big foreign policy story in most outlets and the Iraq deal was a blurb.
But Bush, in his big push for middle eastern peace, has undercut his position by declaring -- in intention, if not law -- perpetual war in Iraq.
At this point, I'm torn on which way to go with this. Is the fact that President Bush is once again being a boneheaded fool what I'm most pissed off about or is it the fact that most of the media didn't cover this Iraq deal?
I suppose both are just as bad. And when this deal falls apart, as everyone with a pulse predicts it will, talking head shows will ask, "What went wrong?" and shrug their blue suited shoulders. Few will bring up the fact that Bush pushing middle east peace is like Nixon advocating good government. The problem, which almost no one will cover, is that Bush wants everything for nothing. He does what he wants, everyone else does what he wants, and that's the way the world's supposed to work. The president has a spoiled rich kid's view of the world, where everything is all about making him happy. He's the most important person in the world, not because he's president, but because he's been raised to believe it. He'd believe it whether he worked in the Oval Office or a Burger Barn.
And when the next president tries to get us out of Iraq, Hawks will point to this non-binding agreement and try to spin it into some kind of damned law. Because the worst president in American history thought it was a good idea, we'll be told we absolutely have to follow through. After all, a deal's a deal. Bush -- in his typical stupid, stupid, stubborn ass way -- has created one more obstacle to cleaning up the mess he'll leave behind.
Thanks, George. You suck. And thanks, media. You suck too.