THE SPINE JANUARY 14, 2008
The Bush visit to the Middle East is now come and gone, over. We will see what we will see.
But I've just reread an article instructing George Bush on what he must do there to be a success. It was published in the FT ("Bush must dispense bitter pills to bring about peace") on the day (January 9) the president landed at Ben Gurion Airport, and it was written by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Not actually as a memo to Bush but more as a sop to the people around Barack Obama who go into conniptions when reminded that Zbig is one of their candidate's foreign policy advisers.
The article is not rocket science. But it is sensible enough. The Israelis have already agreed to more or less everything that Brzezinski says Bush should demand of them, and they did most of that when Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yassir Arafat were cooped up at Camp David in 2000.
Brzezinski knows this, and so there is none of his usual hectoring of the Israelis. Does he want to be National Security Adviser again? He can't. He reminds everyone of Jimmy Carter. Also way too old.
But Zbig does not want to be pariah, as he has been during the last decade.
One matter on which he is abundantly clear is that there is not to be "a right of return" of the so-called refugees to the Jewish state. (I'll write about these people and their problem some time soon -- and also about the Sephardic world which, under duress and due to widespread violence, transferred itself more or less entirely to Israel.)
This is the "don't touch me" line of the Palestinians. If they give up this demand, their entire ideological structure withers away.