Reuters reported Friday on Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's preparations for her upcoming Middle East trip.
Anxious not to repeat mistakes of past Middle East peace-making, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has turned to former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter for tips ahead of her own conference this year.
Rice invited Carter, a vocal critic of Bush administration policies, to the State Department on Wednesday where the two discussed his Arab-Israeli peacemaking efforts in the 1970s, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Friday.
Their talks were "good and cordial," he said. They focused on the Middle East and not Carter's recent criticism of President George W. Bush's policies in Iraq and elsewhere.
A Soviet specialist, Rice also telephoned another former Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who tried, and ultimately failed, in his eight years in office to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together.
Other sources of advice have been former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross and ex-secretaries of state James Baker, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. Rice meets frequently for lunch with Albright, whose father taught Rice at Denver University.
Rice has made clear she will devote all her energy in the Bush administration's final 14 months to get what others have failed to attain in the past -- a viable, independent Palestinian state living side by side with a secure Israel.
When I started reading the article, I thought maybe Condi was grilling Carter and Clinton so she can be sure NOT to do what they did. Especially Clinton. But the more I read, especially in light of her previous efforts in the region, it looks instead as though she's planning to pursue more of the same policies that have helped generate the mess Israel and the Palestinians are in:
1) Demand tangible, sacrificial, security-reducing concessions from Israel
2) Ask for Palestinian promises that they'll think about maybe shaking a finger sternly at their home-grown terrorists in exchange for Israel's concessions
3) Declare peace in our time.
4) Express sadness when the Palestinians resume blowing up Israelis, and scold Israel for retaliating against the terrorists with targeted assassinations.
That's the Clinton Legacy. That's all she can learn from Madeleine Albright about the Middle East.
When Condi was President Bush's National Security Advisor, she was The Man, talking tough and not backing down in the face of threats to our country. Now that she's Secretary of State, she's been body-snatched into the State Department's "stability" mindset. She's becoming nothing but Madeleine Albright's clone, only without the fat and the gray hair.
The problem for Israel is that Olmert doesn't know how to protect Israel's security any better than our State Department does. He should just tell Rice where to stick her ideas, plans, roadmaps, and demands. He should. But he won't. And Israel will be even worse off than ever.